Molly Lazer, a former assistant and associate editor at Marvel who provides professional critiques in the Creators Workshop, will be releasing her debut novel in the spring of 2018! Owl Eyes, from Fire & Ice YA, twists and toys with the standard Cinderella story, asking questions about the role of “goodness,” Cinderella’s father, why she wasn’t recognized at the ball, and other lingering issues. She’s been developing her intriguing new fantasy world for over fourteen years!
“It morphed from a story that mostly just tried to answer these questions into a story that is more about identity, finding your family, and figuring out your place in the world and how to be the person you are separate from where you come from. And magic, of course,” Molly says.
While working for Marvel, Molly worked on editing titles like Spider-Girl, New Avengers, Captain America, Fantastic Four, and Thunderbolts. With Owl Eyes, she returns to her creative prose roots. She recounts some advice given to her by Marvel editor Tom Brevoort regarding the initial adjustment to comics.
“In prose, text is text. But in comics writing, text, specifically dialogue, equals space. Too much dialogue and no one will be able to see the artwork,” she says.
“I think that comics writing is most similar to flash fiction (fiction of 1000 words or fewer) in that you really have to think about pacing and economy of language. In comics, you also have to think about visual storytelling, which I guess was the biggest adjustment for me coming in as a prose writer.”
Spending so much time absorbed in the comics world helped enhance Molly’s approach to prose. As “a fan of compressed stories,” she believes pacing is one of the most significant lessons aspirant novelists can learn from comics.
“I’ve found that thinking of storytelling in terms of arcs or episodes that contribute to a larger whole can be helpful when doing my planning.”
She also touts the virtues of economic storytelling, and believes the strategies used while writing comics translate well to prose.
“In comics, you have only 22 pages in an issue, so determining what information your reader needs in order to understand the characters and the world of the story is essential, especially since you want to do it without it sounding like your characters are obviously spouting exposition,” Molly says.
“In prose writing, you have a bit more leeway, since you can have blocks of descriptive text. Even so, prose writing can easily get bogged down in description. Keeping the reader engaged and keeping the story moving while still providing the reader with the essential information is an important part of prose writing, too.”
Another crucial skill writers need? Listening. Molly attributes self-edits and a strong mentor as major figures in bringing Owl Eyes to readers.
She says, “It’s been a long, long road to both getting a final version that I feel is ready to put out there and to actually finding someone who wanted to publish it. I’ve written so many drafts that I can’t even count them, many of them wholesale rewrites, because I never felt like the book was truly finished.”
“I ‘finished’ it before I submitted it to my advisor at the beginning of the process for my MFA thesis, and she read it, turned around, and told me to write the whole thing again. I was really unhappy at first, but it turns out she was right, because the final rewrite was the best and truest version of the story.”
We’re looking forward to checking out Owl Eyes upon its publication!