One of the first things a novice playwright has to learn is that if a character is to age or reappear in different costume, the events on stage must go on long enough without him/her for the necessary costume or makeup change. It's not as glamorous as the arranging of incident and emotion, but without it the play simply will not work.
A few months back, I wrote my first comic book script. It's for a Locust Moon Comics/Dark Horse Comics anthology, a sequel to Once Upon A Time Machine. Which will feature Greek myths and legends retold with a science fiction twist.
What have I learned so far? Some obvious things, of course. The dialogue has to be concise, to avoid filling the panels up with words. A wordless panel or one with a single word or short sentence can have enormous power -- but when you've only got so much space to work with and a great deal of information to convey, you have to use that trick sparingly.
Less obviously, the process of writing a story is very different when it has to come out to a specific number of pages. With a prose story, I simply let the story find its own length. For the script, however, the story I set out to tell was too long, so its plot and intent and outcome had to be changed completely in order for it to flow properly. Most surprisingly for this tyro, the bottom of each page had to be stronger, more emphatic than the top or middle, so that the reader would carry a clear understanding of exactly what's happening to the next page.
I expect to learn a lot more when the book comes out and I get to see my words transformed into images. But that won't be for a while yet. The stories are still being drawn.
And a word about the coming month...
On Saturday, Marianne and I fly to to China with a group of friends including Ellen Datlow and Eileen Gunn. We'll be gone for most of April.
If I can, I'll keep my blog updated. It's quite possible I'll be blogging more than usual -- I'll certainly have a lot of wonderful things to blog about. But it's also possible that I won't be able to. The Great Firewall of China is not a myth.
Wish me well, and keep your fingers crossed!