Creator's Toolkit #7: Too Many Damned Words!

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I cranked out a massive OGN script in the past two weeks and hired an editor to review and critique it. Well, critique it he did. In fact, I'm pretty sure I drove him to the brink of madness with my script. While there were some major high level flaws...I was taking too long to get to the story, I was showing and telling when I should have been doing one or the other, I wasn't establishing characters effectively enough to have any emotional payoff...there was another serious and infuriating pox on my script- I was using too damned many words!

Now, this is, I admit a weakness of mine. Before I collect Super Seed into a trade, I'll likely take a hatchet to the script, editing it down for better readability. But the script I sent poor Steven was wordy to the extreme. I could practically hear him screaming at me in his comments. At one point he challenged me to show him a 9-panel page that could hold 270 words, as I had written. He demanded I show it to him.

Well, never one to back down from a challenge...here's such a page. (Excuse the awful wacom art.)


The rules Steven gave me were the same rules, legend has it, that DC comics gave to Sir Alan Moore.
  • No more than 210 words on a page.
  • No more than 35 words in a panel.
  • No more than 25 words in a balloon or caption.
I've always known that writing and re-writing were fundamentally different activities, using different parts of the brain. I was falling in love with the sound of my own words and along the way, forgot I was writing a comic book...not a novel. So, I'm actually grateful to have those rules drilled into me now...and I've actually been enjoying hacking into my script and cutting out all the excess.

I've certainly learned a lesson that should serve me well with anything else I write.

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