|Monty and I chatting at the event.|
Monty shared his comic writing process and some of the trials involved in publishing comic books. Here are some of my take-aways from the event.
Monty suggested several book to read about writing, including Syd Field's Screenwriters Workbook and Stephen King on Writing.
He offered some suggestions for those that have ideas for stories - concentrate on subtext, twist and pace, and try to surprise people with something new, be inventive.
When writing you should be thinking 'what have I not seen before?', and 'how can I take things that happen every day and make it original?'.
He shared the story of making Death Sentence, which includes the theme of time running out, and how he felt inspired by the imminent birth of his own child, that his own time was running out and that he'd never have the time to undertake a creative project in the future. Happily, he concluded that this turned out NOT to be the case, and he's found that having children has actually opened up creative opportunities that never existed for him before.
Monty explained a process he uses in creating a story. He writes down every idea, works out a 'hook' for the story and expands it into a paragraph, then into sentences and scenes. Eventually he writes all the scenes onto about 50 cards and places them out on the floor, carefully rearranging and discarding scenes until they make sense, and any problems have been ironed out.
He then moves onto character design, writing lots of dialogue for the character and then trimming it down to fit the scenes, often discarding 50% of the dialogue.
The dialogue is then split into chunks of 10 to 20 words, suitable for dialogue balloons, and then these are split into panels for the comic layout.
Monty explained that at first he did lots of research, but found it was just a type of procrastination. He now just writes and then comes back later to research any points that need to be made more credible, such as scientific plot points.
Marketing your comics is one of the biggest issues raised by Monty. He explained that getting publicity is very difficult and he emails, phones and speaks to everyone who might be interested in his new books. He reckons up to 90% of this is fruitless, but nevertheless important. His top tip was to produce a 10 page preview comic and give it away to as many people as possible, with the knowledge that most of the copies will end up in the bin!
Monty's new book Death Sentence London, published by Titan Books is out now and available at all good comic stores, including Little Shop of Heroes.