SIDEWISE and Beyond: The Creative Process

A Word From Our Sponsors

Before I begin discussing my creative process, I would like to direct your attention to my Zuda entry. It’s called SIDEWISE, and we’d sincerely appreciate your vote. It only takes about 10 seconds to register. It’s probably the least lame registration process I’ve experienced on the internet.


It will be necessary to check out SIDEWISE before reading the rest of this blog entry. Or you can pretend you’re a visitor from the ancient past: bewildered and anomic. Your call.

The Set-Up

After reading some of the SIDEWISE reviews, I began contemplating some of the various criticisms of our 8-page prologue. After much thought, I decided to use these critiques as a springboard to share a bit of my creative process. The purpose of this post is not to belittle these well-intentioned fans.

Long Form Vs. Short Form

Before I begin writing a story, I complete a bullet outline of the complete story: beginning, middle and end. As I continue conducting research and fleshing out the big picture, the bullet outline becomes a much more detailed document accompanied by image references for the artist.

By completing this outline, I can ascertain the length of the story: a one-shot, graphic novel or mini-series. Once I have made the call, I move forward and begin writing the script.

When I begin scripting, I have already mapped the story in its entirety. As such, I write for the long form. That is why you may see a character (Fawkes, for example) or event (“If I’d known then what I know now…”) mentioned early in the story and further introduced or explained as the story progresses. I don’t believe in spoon feeding. This is a story, not a gag strip. Buckle in, read along and watch the story unfold.

I never write 5 or 8 pages of a long form story and stop. That is both counter-intuitive and lazy writing in my estimation. It’s one thing if I’m writing a 5 or 8-page short comic story, but why in the world would I write a prologue for a long form story with no idea where to go from there?

Writing by the seat of your pants can be exhilarating, but it can also get you into a pickle. It’s better to avoid the stress and plot your story beforehand.

Tune In!

I will be discussing SIDEWISE, American McGee’s Grimm and my other projects this coming Sunday night (June 14th) on Fanboy Radio. Please join me LIVE at 7pm EST / 6pm CST / 4pm at Fanboy Radio for a spirited conversation.


6 thoughts on “SIDEWISE and Beyond: The Creative Process

  1. i’ve started doing something similar. i have the start & end, then i have certaiin scenes already done up, one of my hard parts is linking the scenes in a certain space of pages.
    the hardest part for me is that i write in freehand so i can doodle the scene/layout, but then transferring it to type. i just feel more creative when i hand write the story. i wonder if it’s because i’m an inker?

  2. I heard about the bullet outline somewhere, saying if you can’t describe what’s happening on each page in one line, it’s too much.

    Zuda is good that way. You have a 60 screen constraint, so I start by numbering 60 lines 1 to, um, 60 and do my descriptions.

    If you’re just trying to come up with a story with no idea where to publish it, you could end up with 600 one line page descriptions and no end in sight.

    Zuda forces you to be creative, and concise.

  3. waki and Caanan: I think the key is to find a way of plotting and organizing the story that works for you. The point of my post was to say that professional writers would do well to have the entire story plotted BEFORE moving to the scripting process. Believe it or not, I worked with a published who demanded that you write no more than the first five pages of the story so the editor could walk hand-in-hand through the plotting and scripting of the story. I was appalled, stating that I had already plotted and scripted the entire story.

    Needless to say, I left that publisher.

  4. Wow, that’s crazy. That’s like hollywood-style crossing over into comics.

    To me, that defeats the purpose of comics. Comics are the one place where it’s okay to pull stuff directly out of your brain and throw it on a page with minimal interference. Maybe I’m naive.

    You look like you’re doing well in the Zuda comp, though! Then you shall be nurtured. 😉

    I tend to plot backwards. Work from the finale and figure out the ways all the characters get to where they end up. Endings have to be strong. Makes sense to me ‘cos the ending’s the last thing people read. First impressions count, but so do lasting ones.

    Good luck Dwight! The month is halfway done.

  5. Thank you for the well wishes, Caanan! We plan to duke it out till the bitter end. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Longbox Digital Comics, Life after Diamond and the new Whiteout Trailer | Optimum Wound

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s