How to make every scene a great scene

Make your story come alive by sculpting each scene:

You can enrich your story by breaking it up in scenes. A scene is action taking place in one environment or one continuous period of time. The characters deal with the main theme of the scene (the love scene, the action scene, the dream scene, the sex scene, the car chase scene, etc.).

Kraven's Last Hunt
Account for every decision a character makes
  • Why do they do it - what is the character’s motivation?
  • What challenge must they overcome specific to the scene?
  • How do they transform to make the right decision?

Everything must have consequences
  • How a character responds must have consequences.
  • What happens to a character must affect him/her.

Provide conflict everywhere
  • Portray every character in some sort of conflict of interest.
  • Use the conflict to either demonstrate or grow the character.
  • You can always have a third party inserted for comical effect where necessary.
Kid Miracleman

Create suspense
  • Let the audience in on an agonizing secret important to the audience but unknown to the characters. They'll fret for the heroes to find out.
  • Action with peril (of death if possible).
  • Have the audience root for an outcome (success, romance, etc) but frustrate them terribly with endless obstacles.
  • The trick is to set up an expectation but fulfill it in a completely unexpected way.

Create great set pieces
  • Every story is an intelligent whole illustrated through a series of anecdotes.
  • Choose a few audience favorite set pieces (great action scene, great romance, etc.)

Everything must have a reason

Delete scenes / characters that don’t change the story and don’t affect its outcome.

Provide focus
Magneto rips out
Wolverine's adamantium.

Don't confuse the reader by giving unimportant events or characters too much time. Make sure that the main story events and character(s) remain central.

Great scenery
  • Choose backdrops that are majestic or demonic, but always larger than live. Don’t just have a meeting, have a meeting at the top of the mountains, at a great waterfall.
  • If you go to a familiar, grander than life setting that is familiar to the audience, consider if the heroes or villains could visit it at a time when the scenery is odd, unfamiliar to the audience, so there is a new world to discover. E.g. An abandoned circus, the world fair at a time when it is being broken down, the White House at night or under attack, etc.

Bring everything back

Make a list of everything that is mentioned, every artifact and make it come back.

Comic book creators: It is time to change your name.

Even the world's greatest detective uses Google
People look to search engines to find almost anything online (including google itself!). What that means for you is that when they search your name or your book, you should be easily found and two clicks away from a purchase.

Owning a great domain name is all good and well, but if your book doesn't have a unique title, it will get totally lost on the search engines. Worst case scenario, people will believe they mistakenly found your book and buy somebody else's book altogether.

You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on SEO. All you need is a unique name for your book / brand / online persona. I've managed to do this for my book "Damaged Universe". Part of choosing the name was how successful we could be ranking number #1 without any expenses towards SEO.

BTW. Thanks mom, for not naming me John. And thanks dad for not having the last name Smith.

Go ahead. Make the worst comic book ever.

A couple of weeks ago I published my first comic book. It had good reviews, it had bad reviews. I've learned since that as a publisher I definitely have a lot to learn about creating a quality publication.

It wasn't my most stinging moment yet. I've had a few epic fails in my 9 lives. But sailing the choppy waters has taught me a great deal.

Everything you do can be done better. Of course, that means that during your career you will create  some real stinkers. Especially when you are just starting out.

But that isn't something you should be too concerned about. At some point, you'll do something wrong. You will make a total ass of yourself. I guarantee it. You might as well get it out of the way now, so that you can move on to better things.

Don't let it hold you back. It has got to happen.

Mondays are the best

I love Monday. Start the day well and you’ll be already ahead of 99% of entrepreneurs.

My new favorite emotion: feeling awkward

It is awkward to put yourself out there on social media and promote your book.

It is awkward to chase for funding opportunities to get your project kickstarted.

It is awkward to receive rejection letters for projects you really thought were special.

It is awkward to have to chase up your creative partners in order to get your book out on time.

It is awkward reading something you were proud of months ago, and realizing all the mistakes you made. You've grown beyond it now.

It is awkward when you realize someone on your team is holding you back, and you have to let them go.

It is awkward when your family frowns when you tell them you are making comic books now.

All these moments should be embraced. Relish in the awkwardness. Because that awkward feeling is the gateway between you and achieving excellence. If it wasn't awkward, it was all a cakewalk, everyone would be doing it.

How you face that awkward barrier separates you from the crowd. It is a gift, a signal that tells you "If I push through this, I can make something really rare and special."\

And then one sweet day, it won't feel awkward anymore. Just business as usual...

It can be awkward at times to be Spider-Man. But hey, you get to be Spider-Man!

Comic book creators: you should be dating more online!

Art by Jim Lee
Hey girl, I am a talented boy. Why don't you give me some money and I'll show you my chops? It'll be the ride of your lifetime. BTW, I got this thing going on, crazy comic and shit, and nobody wants to read it. So won't you read it? Because it is making me kinda depressed and I'm feeling like the biggest loser in the world. Not sure if I'm ever going to break through. C'mon girl, hit that follow button, I dare you. I'm gonna tell you all about me and what I am doing and just put myself out there, you know. What, did you say something? Sorry, too busy talking about myself. So here's something you should know. I'm doing something really cool. It's just that the world is filled with morons who can't appreciate it. Why does everyone suck so much?

Would you date that guy? In a heartbeat, right?

Think about how you communicate with your audience as going on a date. You don't show up with a bunch of dead flowers and smelling like you just cleaned out a sewer pit. You don't talk just about you and your issues - although it is good to show your personality (this is a trick I am still learning).

If you want to engage your audience, be a top date.

Show some interest in other's that could matter to you one day. Interact with other creators, editors, publishers and reviewers. Talk about their projects in a way that shows that you understand the process - that adds value for them. If you can show you can intelligently engage them on the topics that matter most to them, they will in turn take an interest in you - if you are lucky, follow you or at least read your feeds that one lucky time.

Next, take a shower, buy some awesome flowers, take them to a great restaurant. Or in comic book terms: try to create the best comic book possible and create an experience around it. Tell compelling stories, not just in the comic, but around the comic. How you created it, what your thoughts are about the creative process, share some of your adventures while creating the comic. All that good stuff. Show them you are a catch.

Of course, on any good date, you should ask them for sex right away. And possibly share all your kinky desires in the first 15 minutes. That'll get you a great response. Hey, why are you walking away? No, don't run. No officer, I was just talking to her, I didn't harm her. What could possibly have upset her?

Yup, develop relationships slowly, with an eye on the long-term. Slow and steady wins the race. No need to start attacking your audience on every political or social view - you can engage them in this later, when you deepened the relationship.

Of course, after a few successful dates and a great honeymoon period, nothing matters anymore. Quit that gym membership, stop taking showers and don't feel embarrassed poking your nose and farting in front of them. They know you now, you've earned their trust. Don't be afraid to leave her hanging a bit while you catch up for lost times with the boys. You nailed it. This thing can't go wrong. If I could just figure out why she's not picking up my calls anymore? Maybe she's not paying her phone bills on time? And why did her friends start avoiding me? I had this!

Yup, even when you have a deeper relationship with your audience, you've got to keep romancing them. Don't switch on the autopilot, but seek to respond on a more "intimate" level. Keep it going.

And it is okay to talk about yourself. Just not all the time. And when you do talk about yourself, do it in such a way that it adds value to their lives. Make sure you communicate things that are funny, interesting or enriching to your audience. You are here to entertain, to move them, to help each other become better artists and craftsmen.

When engaging your audience, you can't go wrong asking the question: "Would this work on a date?"

Make them miss you when you're gone

So many people shout about their comic at the top of their lungs. But if you put people off by your constantly haranguing them you are actually spamming people's timeline or inbox. Worthwhile promoters seek to create relationships where everyone benefits.

Ask yourself: is your message self-serving, or does it add value to the lives of your audience?

A good rule of thumb is: if people don't miss your updates once you stop posting them, you are probably doing it wrong. Not just because it is unethical to heap senseless noise into people's feeds and inboxes, but also because people will start to tune you out.

Market your books by creating value for your audience. Make them laugh, cry, peak their interest, offer an "aha" moment. If you aren't doing that, you are most likely shooting yourself in the foot.