Writing for Comics 101 – Why One-Liners Are Not Enough

In today’s installment of Writing for Comics 101, let’s talk about why one-liners are not enough.

If you missed it, I wrote in last week’s installment about how to write good characters. Now, I’m going to let you in on a secret about how to write dialogue for characters:

YOU CANNOT FORCE A ONE-LINER.

Admittedly, this is more of a problem I see in people who want to get into superhero or shonen comics. Both genres are guilty of having characters talking (almost incessantly) on the pages during action scenes. This incessant talking is meant to lead into quote-worthy one-liners.

Don’t get me wrong. I love one-liners. Otherwise I would not love the movie Mystery Men as much as I do.

But here’s the secret about one-liners: They are rooted in the characters.

To have good one-liners, you need to have good characters. To have good characters, you need to know your characters REALLY well. As in, you should know the things I talked about last week. If you don’t, go back to the Word document.

But a story cannot be made of one-liners alone. You need to have connective moments. Even Mystery Men knew that.

So what you need to learn is how to write actual, believable dialogue between characters.

To make that actual, believable dialogue, you need to understand your characters backgrounds, wants, and fears.

And here’s the most important secret about making comics that few people talk about:

Sometimes, the best thing you can say on the comic page…is nothing.

Trust me: silence can say more in a story than any amount of dialogue ever could. Read Cairo and Asterios Polyp if you don’t believe me.

If you still have questions, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

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