Scripts

How to Format a Script

How to format a comics script - Fred Van Lente

Scripting programs - Josh Flanagan



Alright, your story is well outlined and you’re ready to start on your scripts. So… what does a script look like anyways?

There are many different ways to format a script. Different publishers expect different formats so make sure to look into each publisher’s requirements before you submit to them.

Ex. Dark Horse’s script format.

If you’re looking for references, Comics Experience and Scripts and Scribes have fantastic lists of scripts from creators such as Alan Moore, Brian K. Vaughan, Grant Morrison and many, many more:

If you want to see how I format my scripts, check out my template.


Do I Need To Write A Script If I’m Doing The Art?



If you’re drawing your own story, your scripts will often only be seen by yourself. In this situation a script is primarily for the sake of organizing your ideas so that they can be drawn later. Some artists already have a good idea of what they want in their panels so they don’t write scripts at all. As always, I encourage you to do what works best for you.

That said, I think it’s beneficial to write a script for your stories. It’s a helpful way to keep track of your ideas and make sure you’re fulfilling all your promises (remember the M.I.C.E. quotient!).

Many publishers require applications to have a written script so if you plan on submitting, make sure you read up on the requirements of each publisher.

If you feel like it would just be a waste of time, don’t bother writing a script. If you’re just being lazy, help yourself out by putting in the effort to make a better story.


Writing Panel Descriptions



When writing panel descriptions it’s important to remember that you’re writing for an artist and not your audience. Leave the fancy prose writing to novelists. As a comic writer, your goal should be to write in a straightforward manner, painting a clear image of what you want drawn in that panel.

This can be summarized in two points: Be brief and avoid ambiguity.

Writing “Jane gazes up at the large, cold rock in the sky floating above her” is unnecessarily complex compared to “Jane looks up at the moon”. In the second example, the artist should have no problem understanding what’s to be drawn. This isn’t to say you can’t include details like the way a character does something or what feelings you want to evoke from a panel, just make sure that whatever you say, you’re clear about it.

Another point to remember is that you don’t have to describe every little detail of a panel (unless you’re Alan Moore). I’ve seen plenty of scripts go into minute details of the panel. Does it really matter if your character is looking down at a 35 degree angle with their sleeves rolled three quarters of the way up their arm? Overly descriptive panels can end up restricting the art, detracting from the actual important elements. Remember that artists are creators too. While you may have a specific idea for a panel, often your artist will know better what will work best for the panel or the page as a whole. Leaving them some room to express their artistic abilities will often result in more natural feeling panels.

Ultimately it’s up to you to decide how in depth you want to go with your panel descriptions. Every artist has their own preferences so I encourage you to talk with yours and figure out together what works best for you.