Skip to content

Scripting an Outside Outline

At the end of the Working Writer’s Guide to Comics and Graphic Novels I go through the main method I use to write a script directly from a comprehensive outline…

It’s fairly straight forward and the most efficient method I know–at least when it comes to working on your own projects. That is to say when you’ve developed the outline yourself, have a good grasp of where the story is at any given moment and have some degree of flexibility with the page count (or at least, ample time for editorial passes to make the content fit).

As a freelance comic writer, there may come a time when you are required to work directly from a client’s outline.

In these instances you’re likely to find yourself under more stringent restrictions with specific direction such as; “Take exactly what I’ve written in my outline and turn it into a XX page graphic novel…”

Tackling a project like this with the process I outline in the guide will certainly still work, but it may not be the most efficient method. I present the following method as a strong alternative method.

I’m going to showcase material from a Manga outline I wrote for a client a while back, working title “Wolf.” Like the process explained in the Writer’s guide, I’m only going to focus in on a small section of the outline… It’s not important that you don’t have context for the story–just pay attention to the process.

Let’s begin:

1: Separate Scenes

Like the process in the Writer’s Guide, the first step is to go through the outline and separate out the individual scenes. Scene separation is a completely underutilized underappreciated tool for the comic script writer.

We’ll focus on scene 12 from the outline;

—– Start Scene 12 —–

The FBI arrives at Jiro’s house, while Hayate, the wolf and Jiro’s daughter, Kiko play in the backyard. Kiko tells Hayate, “You’re the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.”

The agents flash their credentials and order Jiro to hand over the dog. Because the FBI is an official organization, the detective Jiro, agrees without hesitation… then remembering his friend, Matsui, is now dead, screams for his daughter and Hayate to run.

The agents open fire. Finally realizing the implant is working again, Hayate screams out a warning in Japanese “They’ll kill you to get to me… you’ve got to run.” Jiro and Kiko are shocked that the wolf can speak! Hayate protects Kiko while Jiro goes for an old academy katana on a sword stand. The FBI agents shoot the stand away, leaving only a smaller Wakizashi blade within Jiro’s reach. Jiro uses the sword to fight the gunmen. Jiro’s good with a blade, but not exceptionally good, he hasn’t studied since his academy days.

After a bloody fight with leaves Jiro superficially shot in three places, all the FBI agents are dispatched. Jiro, Kiko and Hayate stumble from the house and rush toward public transit to leave the city.

—– End Scene 12 —–

Now we move on to the primary difference in this approach. Instead of simply separating out each beat, we create a two column list, specifically separating out Actions and Dialogues.

2: Separate Actions and Dialogues

—– Scene 12: Actions —–

  • The FBI arrives at Jiro’s house,
  • while Hayate the wolf and Jiro’s daughter, Kiko play in the backyard.
  • The agents flash their credentials.
  • The detective Jiro, agrees without hesitation…
  • The agents open fire.
  • Jiro and Kiko are shocked that the wolf can speak!
  • Hayate protects Kiko
  • while Jiro goes for an old academy katana on a sword stand.
  • The FBI agents shoot the stand away,
  • leaving only a smaller Wakizashi blade within Jiro’s reach.
  • Jiro uses the sword to fight the gunmen.
  • After a bloody fight, all the FBI agents are dispatched.
  • Jiro, Kiko and Hayate stumble from the house and rush toward public transit to leave the city.

—– Scene 12: Dialogues —–

  • Kiko tells Hayate, “You’re the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.”
  • The agents order Jiro to hand over the dog.
  • The detective Jiro, agrees without hesitation…
  • then screams for his daughter and Hayate to run.
  • Hayate screams out a warning in Japanese “They’ll kill you to get to me… you’ve got to run.”

Notice, I deleted extra writing that was neither action, nor dialogue.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us
Published inTechnique

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

All content © 2017-2021 Nick Macari and may not be reproduced without written permission. Author Theme by Compete Themes