Special Feature: How to Transition to Writing for Other Media (Fast) by Tyler Omichinski
Today we begin a three part series of posts from Tyler Omichinski, a part of Bushmead Publishing. They will be releasing their first comic soon and have lessons to share with you. We interviewed Tyler a few months ago. We are glad to have him return.
Tyler Omichinski is a writer who appears in the forthcoming Another Place anthology and wrote Loch, both from Bushmead Publishing. You can find out more at www.bushmead.com.
Welcome back, Tyler. Thanks for sharing your lesson on transitioning today.
How to Transition to Writing for Other Media (Fast)
I never really expected to write comics, or to dabble in script writing for film. I’m notoriously terrible at even writing poetry, trying to figure out how to deconstruct one of those is an exercise in doing the infuriating. Now, though, I’ve written comic scripts, treatments for short films, bits and bobs for video games, background material for board games, and more pen and paper stuff for RPGs than you can shake a stick at.
From all of this, I’ve worked on and honed a pretty decent method for learning to write something you haven’t written before. Now, in just three steps!
Read the Greats
This one has been a huge advantage for figuring out how to do something well. Find some of the giants within the field, especially ones that you’re hoping to emulate. For me, I chose Gaiman, Moore, and McCloud.
When you’re trying to transition into a visual medium, you need to know the process of how that’s done. For me, I read Sandman, Swamp Thing and more. Read them first in their publication version, and then track down the scripts they came from. Subreddits are an amazing source for these if you’re a newbie.
Comparing the scripts to the final product is going to reveal to you not only the idiosyncrasies of how different writers engage with the material, but also getting a glimpse into the process of how it is translated from words on the page into a fully formed comic.
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Do Your Homework
There are a couple steps to this. If you’re lucky, one or two people have created an amazing book or course encapsulating the essence of that medium. For comics, we’ve got the amazing Understanding Comics that breaks down so many different nuances of the medium in fascinating ways. For film, there are YouTube channels like “Every Frame a Painting” and “Nerdwriter1” that examine various minutia in ways you can understand.
I have this second, because it speeds things up. You’ve already looked at a script at the point, and the finish product. It is no longer a nebulous concept. This gives your mind something to anchor it back to.
As you work through the homework section, you’ll find your brain naturally referencing back to the work you already read.
Your subconscious should be serving up examples as you go, prompting you to make deeper connections.
Do the Thing
Whenever you’re approaching something new, it is so daunting to just get started. Once you’ve done just enough homework and reading to have a basic handle on it, start to work on whatever you’ve got.
With the basic tools in place, you need to just start working on the project. You’re going to make mistakes, probably a ton of them.
That’s okay! You’ve got your resources on hand to refer back to as you go, and as you’re in editing. Just like prose or any other style of writing, the first draft is allowed to be terrible. You’ll fix all that later.
Instead, the biggest trick is to barrel forward before you feel like you’re fully ready, and be prepared to learn on the fly.
Now, this process won’t make you an expert overnight, nor will it make you a giant in a field. Instead, it is a way to accelerate your way from complete newbie to competent, moving you forward that much faster.
This can be adapted to any time you’re transitioning into a new genre or a new media.