Six Things I Learned About Writing from Comic Books


The first things I started reading on my own were comic books. Much of how I write now stems directly from the lessons I learned reading Thor, Superman, The Avengers, Fantastic Four, Black Panther and others. I pass these along because someone else might benefit from these lessons.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use big words – By this I mean don’t dumb down your vocabulary for the readers. If you make them stretch and come up to you, they’ll reward you with loyalty. “Omnipotent Odin”, “Imperious Rex”, the “Ultimate Nullifier!” When I was ten and reading these words I didn’t know, I got my dictionary and figured it out, and appreciated the words more.

a omnipotence2. It’s the Character stupid – If you don’t have strong, well-developed characters. Your audience will soon grow disinterested and stop reading. They have to have a motivation. Whether it be avenging the death of Uncle Ben or the death of their parents, everybody needs a motivation. Any character deserving of a name deserves a reason for being.

a bruce wayne

3.There must be conflict – As Samuel L. Jackson reminded us in Unbreakable, “In a comic, you know how you can tell who the archvillain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero. And most time’s they’re friends.” Dr. Doom and Reed Richards began as friends, before taking their intelligence in different directions. The challenge for Superman and Thor and the mightiest of heroes is that we have to be able to believe they can be defeated. Put your characters in a position where they could lose.

a reed richards

4.Provide a hint of what’s to come – In a fiction book, think about a possible sequel. Lay the foundation for possible plot lines that may or may not be developed in the next book. You don’t have to wrap-up every subplot, leave a couple to fester. This will bring your readers back.

a thanos infinity gauntlet5. Give yourself a timeframe – Schedule your writing and stick to it. Comics came out every 30 days without an excuse. If you outline your novel, also establish projected timeframes for completion. Give yourself goals… and meet them.

a writer at work

6.Use your imagination – You have it in you to create whole universes. You are the writer and you can do anything. You can have fictional or real characters meet that never could/did in reality. Travel thru time or change history. Establish fictional countries in an otherwise real world. You are only limited by what you can conceive.

a thor vs odin

Comics were once limited to 32 pages with a few panels each to present a chapter or perhaps tell an entire story. You have the ability to use as few or as many words as you need. Remember these lessons and you will go far as a writer.

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