Last Updated on July 20, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD
Comic book writing is fun, but it can be a challenge. It’s an artistic form of literature that uses the comic strip as a way to deliver stories and information quickly and efficiently through sequential art. This article will introduce you to the 7 main writing styles found in comics.
Comic book writing styles are defined by the level of reader involvement in the story. Which type you choose to use will depend on what you want your readers to do with your story. The seven types are as follows:
1. Non-Linear Narrative Style
This writing style can be especially good for stories that are meant to be complex or puzzling. It’s also great for deconstructionist comics, which explore why comic book tropes exist and how they affect creativity in the medium by using them in a negative light.
The non-linear style is self-explanatory; it means that your story is told out of order. Therefore, the reader must piece together the events like a puzzle to make sense of things.
Suppose you choose to use this type of writing style. In that case, I recommend watching Memento, where time is presented non-linearly, and The Prestige, which also uses it (although not quite as non-linearly as Memento) because it’s a great example of how to write a story that uses this writing style.
The advantages of using this type of writing style are that it can make for an interesting, complex read that rewards the reader who connects the dots to figure out why things happened as they did.
However, a non-linear narrative isn’t for everyone, and there is a risk involved; not all readers will like trying to put together a story without knowing if they’re getting closer to the correct answer.
2. Stream of Consciousness Style
This writing style is mostly seen in surrealist works but can also be used for stories where you want the reader to feel like they are experiencing what the protagonist is experiencing. This is one of the harder writing styles to master, but it can be a very rewarding read when done well.
When writing a story with a stream-of-consciousness narrative, the main thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t try to force readers to feel specific things by what comes after certain events. It’s essential to guide the reader along with you, but not by force.
It’s also important to remember that even though you want the reader to feel what your character is feeling, there may still be some parts of the story that they won’t understand if they’re following through with whatever comes next. Those events are okay because the reader will be able to understand them in retrospect once they’ve caught up to everything else.
A good example of a story with this type of narrative is A Scanner Darkly, the movie, which uses it in a science-fiction setting. Here, the main character is an undercover narcotics agent addicted to a powerful, dangerous drug that slowly changes his perception of reality.
The advantages of this type of writing style are that the reader can experience what it’s like to be in your protagonist’s shoes, making for an engaging read.
However, this type of narrative isn’t recommended if you want to build suspense or use foreshadowing because there won’t be any transitional phrases like “and then,” which help to make things clearer.
3. In media res Style
This writing style is mainly used for action stories, particularly those meant to be exciting from the get-go. If you’re not into complicated narratives and want something a little simpler, use this type of writing style to keep things moving at a faster pace.
The in-media res writing style means “in the middle of things” in Latin. This means that the story begins in the middle of an event that will hook readers into wanting to know how it got started and what happens next.
This type of narrative works well for stories that revolve around action and adventure because the reader won’t need to do much thinking to figure out what’s going on.
As with all writing styles, there is a risk involved in using it. If you don’t hook readers from the beginning, they’ll stop reading your story before they even get a chance to figure out what’s going on.
However, this is a good option for those who don’t want their reader’s attention to wander from the beginning and prefer a more straightforward approach.
An example of a story that uses this writing style is The Matrix, which starts with the protagonist being chased by agents and continues from there.
The pros of this writing style are that it’s quick and easy to read, which can be beneficial for action stories where the pacing needs to be fast.
However, if you want your readers to think about what’s going on in your story, this isn’t a good option because there won’t be any explanations.
4. Confession Style
This writing style is great for dark, psychological stories where the protagonist’s inner conflict leads them to tell their story. Confessions are best used in crime stories but can also be applied to other genres that involve negative feelings.
If you’re looking for a unique way to get your readers involved with your writing, consider using a confession as your narrative style.
This type of writing involves the protagonist giving a “confession” of sorts where they tell their story from start to finish. The key thing to remember is that it’s not meant to tell anyone else about what they’ve done but rather help them come to terms with their emotions.
The confession narrative style can be great for dark or serious stories because it’s hard to tell whether you should feel sympathy or sadness for the protagonist. This keeps things interesting because readers are left wondering what will happen next rather than knowing what would happen if they were in your character’s shoes.
However, this writing style requires a lot of thinking and planning because the story you come up with needs to be told in a way that can be described as “confessional.”
An example of this type of writing style is The Lovely Bones, a girl who has been murdered and watches as her family struggles without her.
The pros of this type of narrative are that it’s unique and forces readers to think about what they’re reading, which can benefit dark stories.
However, this type of narrative isn’t recommended if you simply want to tell a story quickly because it will take more effort on your part to plan out the “confession.”
5. Question and answer Style
Another interesting way to tell your story is through the question-and-answer writing style. This type of narrative involves using questions in place of regular narration to describe what’s happening in the story instead of answering them like you would in a traditional story.
This writing style will keep readers on their toes because it allows them to think about what’s going on in your story instead of telling them.
For example, you could ask, “How will the protagonist escape?” instead of saying, “The protagonist escaped because they were brave.”
This narrative style is best for psychological stories where readers are left wondering how the story’s events happened and what made things turn out that way.
The pros of this narrative style are that it keeps your reader active by forcing them to think about the story you’re trying to tell, which can be beneficial for psychological stories.
However, this isn’t recommended if you simply want to write a story quickly because it will take more effort on your part to make sure everything makes sense.
6. Experiential Style
This is one of the most detailed writing styles because it involves using what would happen in real life to describe events in your story. For example, instead of saying, “The truck drove through the wall,” you’d say, “The truck smashed into the wall.”
While these details can be great for keeping readers hooked, they aren’t recommended for beginners because it takes a lot of skill to describe things accurately.
However, this writing style can be beneficial for various stories as long as you have the skills to write them well. An example of an experiential narrative is The Revenant, which involves a man being forced on a journey through the wilderness after being betrayed by his companions.
The pros of this narrative style are that it helps you describe things in a more detailed way, which can be beneficial for stories where it’s important to have an accurate mental image of what’s happening.
However, using the experiential writing style requires a lot of skill, so beginners may want to stick with easier writing styles until they’re comfortable enough to branch out.
7. Author Intrusion Style
The last type of narrative style is the one where you write yourself into your story- or in other words, author intrusion. This is when you put yourself in your novel as someone who influences what happens instead of using a narrator like in traditional stories.
This writing style can be great for making stories feel more personal, but it isn’t recommended for beginners because it’s easy to create an unprofessional image of yourself by failing to properly describe what you look like or how people see you.
For example, suppose two characters are talking about how the protagonist is having trouble figuring out something, and he interrupts them by saying, “I think I know what’s wrong!”. In that case, the readers will likely feel taken out of the story because this isn’t something a real person would do.
However, if you know how to use author intrusion well, it can be beneficial for writing stories with strong perspectives because it forces readers to see things from your point of view.
Pros: This narrative style makes your story more personal and interesting, which is great for books with strong perspectives.
Cons: It’s easy to create an unprofessional image of yourself when using the author intrusion narrative style, so you’ll need to be careful not to make mistakes like talking about things that aren’t relevant or acting, unlike a real person.
It’s important to note that there’s no “right” way of writing a comic book- a lot of writers enjoy experimenting with different styles until they find the one that suits their story best. Even if you prefer one particular style, it can be beneficial to practice other ones because this will improve your skills and make you more versatile as an author.
While there are many different narrative styles, I hope this article has given you at least one new idea for how you want to tell your story.
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