Comics Experience staffer Paul Allor is offering up two exciting new courses: Creating Great Characters and Scripting Your Miniseries or OGN*. Both courses require previous completion of our Introduction to Comic Book Writing class.
Scripting Your Miniseries or OGN begins Wednesday, March 28, and Creating Great Characters starts Wednesday, June 6. Make sure to sign up as soon as you are able, as our classes only have limited slots available. They fill up pretty quickly!
We’re excited to be providing aspiring and established comic book creators alike a chance to better hone their storytelling skills. Paul graciously answered some of our questions regarding what students can expect from his upcoming courses.
Comics Experience: Please explain your approach to teaching.
Paul Allor: Oh, great question. Particularly in a class like this, I think it’s important to find out what your students’ goals are, and essentially come to them with the curriculum and teaching style, instead of the other way around. I also think it’s very important – especially when teaching a creative medium – to be both supportive and honest. You’ll always get my honest and unfiltered opinion of where you’re at, but you’ll also always get my full support as you work to bring your writing to the next level.
Another important facet of my teaching style is the realization that I am not the final authority on anything – least of all someone else’s story. I’m here to give you my thoughts, to work with you and to provide some guidance along the way. But you are the world’s leading expert on your own writing.
And finally, I find that I learn best when I’m having fun. I’m guessing most other people are the same way. So I aim to make these classes fun, stimulating and interactive.
And did I mention fun?
CE: How do these courses build upon the foundation established in the Introduction to Writing class?
PA: I learned so many lessons from Andy Schmidt’s Introduction to Writing class that I still use on a daily basis. That class provides so many of the basic building blocks that you need to create a great story. So in these courses, we’ll be talking about how to use those building blocks to create even larger and more complex structures.
CE: What do you hope students will get out of these classes?
PA: My ultimate goal is that students will come out of these classes feeling they’ve ‘leveled up’ in their writing, and that they now have a broader, deeper set of tools and skills that they can put to work on every comic they write. And I also hope that they feel like they had fun along the way!
CE: What are some of the most common mistakes first-time writers make when creating characters that you want to address in the Creating Great Characters course?
PA: I think the single most common mistake is creating a cast of characters that all talk, think and feel the same. Another common mistake is assuming your readers will relate to your characters, without putting in the work to make sure they do. Finally, a lot of first-time writers also put a ton of work into fleshing out their main character, but then surround them with a cast full of tropes and clichés. But these are all problems you can easily overcome, if you have the right tools and the right approach.
CE: What are some of the most common structural mistakes first-time writers make when creating miniseries and original graphic novels that you want to address in the Creating Great Characters course? What differences between the two formats should students keep in mind when deciding which best suits their stories?
PA: By far the most common mistake is not knowing your ending when you begin your story – essentially making it up as you go along. You should definitely have some flexibility to discover new things about your characters and your story along the way, but going complete improve is a recipe for disaster. Another common mistake is not having something to say, other than “I like this genre/setting/type of story, so I’m writing a comic in this genre/setting/type of story.” That doesn’t sound like a structural problem, but a lack of theme nearly always leads to a lack of drive, drama and tension in your story.
And the main difference between a mini-series and OGN is simply pacing. In a mini-series, you have to worry about keeping the reader hooked 20 pages at a time, which necessitates a somewhat breakneck pace, whereas in original graphic novels you have far greater flexibility in how you approach pacing, scene length, weaving in subplots, and on and on.
Sign up for Creating Great Characters and/or Scripting Your Miniseries or OGN here.
*Original graphic novel
If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!
Posted by Meredith Nudo