Here at iFanboy, we get questions, and I’ve seen plenty regarding how to write comic scripts. As has been said many times, by people far more experienced than I, there is no singular format for writing comics. Unlike TV and film scripts, the formats of which are standardized by their industries and many textbooks, comic book scripts are more of a “do what works” sort of deal. If the writer is communicating what he or she needs to communicate to the artist, then it works. Regardless, this article is not strictly about format, rather about the programs you can use to write scripts. If you want to see some examples of comic book scripts, let me google that for you. OK, here’s one freebie as well.
This might be a little late for the folks interested in participating in the Sequentially Ever After Contest, but then, there’s still time to submit a script, and that is, of course, an acceptable entry.
Like many people, the first thing I ever used was Microsoft Word. I used it because I had it, and it seemed obvious. People with much better computer skills, and more importantly, patience, are even able to make templates and macros for comic book scripting to make it work like a specialized program. In fact, it’s such a robust program that I don’t really know what to do with it other than write paragraphs of text, and change the fonts therein. I might have to pick up a CD-Rom from that “try my product” guy, now that I think about it. In the end, I only ever wrote one script in Word, because it required too much tabbing, spacing, bolding, and capitalizing for my tastes, and would slow me down, as I’m an impatient, yet format obsessive. But it certainly did the job, and lots of pros use it, to be sure. Here’s what a Word script looks like.
For a while, I fancied myself a burgeoning screenwriter, so I bought Final Draft. With only one completed screenplay to my name (which has aged quite a bit since being written), the money spent on the program would have been wasted had I not found a way to repurpose it. The current version will run you around $250; cheaper if you know someone with a valid school ID (You didn’t hear it from me!). In Final Draft (I have version 6. They’re on 8 now), I sort of made up my own format, but really like how easily I can switch between characters and dialog, since I could spend more time writing, and less time highlighting and formatting. Once you get used to it, and you’re doing the things you want to do with it, it works very well. Brian Michael Bendis uses this program to write his scripts, and that might have been where I got the idea. I think the obvious drawback to the program is that it’s not cheap. There are two ways to look at this. One, you’d better be serious to drop that kind of coinage. Or there’s the mental justification route I took, where I said, “Well, if you’re gonna spend that kind of money, it will force you to write. Right?” By the way, that second one is bullshit. Here’s a Final Draft example:
When all is said and done, all of this is only one small part of getting comics made. It can also be done on a piece of paper with a pen, which worked out pretty well for Alan Moore and Watchmen.Don’t spend too much time tinkering with different tools, because the most important thing is putting your thoughts into words, which will be illustrated into real comic pages. Almost no one ever sees the script, so just do what works for you, and write on!