Archive for November 25th, 2012
Wes Locher on Nov 25, 2012
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Amazing how time flies when you’re writing! You have been writing, correct?
Though I (accidentally) took three months off to work on some of my comic projects, I wanted to pick up right where I left off. During this round I wanted to discuss a concept that is easy to understand, but hard to master. That is, the concept of the page turn.
We live in a day and age where attention spans have been reduced to nil and reading is quickly being replaced by audio and video multimedia. Reading is the red-stepchild of the media world.
Remember this: everyone is looking for a reason NOT to read your work.
Pick up any comic book in your collection and flip to a random page. Take a glance at the fine panel on each page. It’s setup with a type of mini-cliffhanger that will spur the reader to turn the page and keep on reading.
You’ll see that some writers have tricks that they’ve used over and over in their books and you’ve probably never noticed.
Have you ever seen a character begin speaking in the last panel and finish their thought on Panel 1 of the following page?
Have you ever seen someone speaking off panel, the identity of whom is revealed on the next page?
Have you ever seen a character open a door and the final panel is a closeup of their shocked face?
If you’ve seen any of these examples, then you’ve been the victim of the page turn! You have to give your reader the motivation to keep reading or scrolling because as soon as your story gets boring, there’s always something else on the stack to be read or a TV show to be watched or a funny cat video that has a better plot than your comic book. It’s stiff competition out there for a person’s eyeballs!
Page turns can also be jarring to the reader. More of a suggestion than a rule, but try to end your scenes on the page turn. With the turn of a page you can set up your next scene with a new establishing shot and shift to the next leg of your illustrated journey.
This isn’t necessarily the rule, but it help keeps the reader from looking at two pages at a time where two different scenes are happening. Keep in mind that when looking at page two and three together, the eyes will naturally wander ruining any potential reveals that page three holds. The page turn is the only way that you can surprise your reader. Take advantage of that.
Over the first few comic books that I wrote, I didn’t take my own advice. I only noticed my lack of page turn usage later when it was pointed out to me by publishers or beta readers. This is one of those small details that sets the amateur apart from the pro. Master the craft. Understand the rules before you can break them.
For my third comic book, as I was outlining and doing the page breakdowns, I considered all of the page turns and structured the script so that all scene changes and big reveals were appropriately placed. It’s a stronger book for doing so and leads to a more satisfying read.
Make it easy to remember: all of your page turn reveals are on the even numbered pages. Keep this in mind and life will be so much easier while scripting.
It’s like I always say–
If you didn’t already guess, Wes Locher writes comic books. Learn more about his projects at weslocher.com, follow his tweets @weslocher, or email him suggestions for future columns at email@example.com.
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