Anyone can guess the difference between prose and comics. But most new writers for comics still need these tips to avoid mistakes or misunderstanding regarding creating a story in two different format.
Tip # 1
You are not simply converting your writing format from one to another. You intend for a story to be published by using a specified medium.
In prose, you think of words that describe what the readers will imagine from scenery to character description to dialogues or thoughts. Words are divided into paragraphs and proper indention.
In comics, you will write in panels, not paragraphs, to describe what the illustrator will be doing and you will also provide narration or dialogues or thoughts.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of the novel Wandering Heart by Sonia Francesca
Napabuntong-hininga na lang si Jessica at nakapangalumbabang tumanaw uli sa labas ng coffee shop. No one really paid much attention to her problem. Kasi nga naman, hindi na iyon bago. She was the perpetual single woman who was always looking for a handsome guy to hook. Iyon siguro ang dahilan kung bakit imbes na lapitan siya ng mga lalaki, nagsisilayo pa ang mga ito sa kanya.
“What’s wrong with those men? Ayaw ba nila ng girlfriend na maganda, sexy, matalino, mayaman, at mabuting mamamayan ng bansang ito na gaya ko?” Isang beses pang napabuntong-hininga si Jessica. “What’s wrong with me? Good catch naman ako, hindi ba? I’m pretty, smart, successful, sexy. Pero bakit walang nanliligaw sa `kin?”
“Maraming nagkakagusto sa `yo.”
“Nagkakagusto lang. Ano’ng gagawin ko do’n kung wala namang lumalapit para manligaw? At hindi n’yo puwedeng sabihing wala akong ginagawa para makakita ng magiging boyfriend. Lahat na ng trick para makapang-akit ng lalaki, ginawa ko na. `Yon nga lang, big no-no ang mga manyakis na lalaki. Still, hindi pa ba sapat ang mga ginawa ko? Don’t I deserve to be loved?”
“There’s nothing wrong with you,” sabi ni Dani, tinigilan na ang pagkutkot sa kuko. “You probably just have too much of everything. Success, beauty, wealth. And men are threatened by those.”
“You’re pretty, smart, successful and famous. Bakit si Justy, hindi na-threatened sa `yo? At ikaw, Vida, praning ka pero bakit minahal ka pa rin ni Vladimir?”
Si Vladimir ang asawa ni Vida, ang may-ari ng Cape’s Corner.
“Because Vladimir’s different. Hindi siya gaya ng ibang lalaki na walang ginawa kundi ma-insecure sa mga babaeng achiever.”
Excerpt from the comic manuscript of Wandering Heart by Nald Tabuzo
Panel 1. Nakaupo pa rin ang tatlo sa table. FG ang isang service crew na daraan sa gilid nila. Medyo nakasimangot si Jesi, mapapansin iyon ni Dani.
Dani: (nagtataka) Bakit parang nagluluksa ang hitsura mo?
Jesi: (mukhang asar na) Sino ba kasi ang hindi sasama ang loob? Hindi ba’t wala ka namang pakialam kung magka-boyfriend ka noon o hindi? At si Vida, hindi ba’t tamad na tamad iyong maghanap ng lalaki? Pero kayo pa ngayon ang may masayang love life.
Panel 2. Change angle or focus.
Vida: (seryoso) Maraming nagkakagusto sa iyo.
Jesi: (nakasimangot pa rin) Nagkakagusto lang. Ano ang gagawin ko sa kanila kung wala namang lumalapit para manligaw.
Panel 3. Change angle or focus.
Dani: (kaswal lang) You probably just had too much of everything—success, beauty, wealth. And men are threatened by those.
Jesi: (parang nanunumbat) You’re pretty, smart, successful and famous. Bakit si Justy, hindi na-threatened sa iyo? At ikaw, Vida, praning ka pero bakit minahal ka pa rin ni Vladimir?
Tip # 2
Every word should matter and are used not just to prolong the story. It is the classic rule both in prose and comics. As you can see in the sample manuscripts above, novels often offer more information compared to comics. But in comics, everything seems concise so every illustration should matter or looks appealing. And just like in a production set, every detail is important. Think of it this way—once that page or scene is removed, will it feel like there’s a gap or a fast-forward feel with what’s happening?
Instead of writing…
“Napabuntong-hininga na lang si Jessica at nakapangalumbabang tumanaw uli sa labas ng coffee shop. No one really paid much attention to her problem. Kasi nga naman, hindi na iyon bago. She was the perpetual single woman who was always looking for a handsome guy to hook. Iyon siguro ang dahilan kung bakit imbes na lapitan siya ng mga lalaki, nagsisilayo pa ang mga ito sa kanya.”
You can also write it as…
Panel 1: Makikita si Jessica na nakapangalumbaba malapit sa salamin na bintana ng coffee shop. Mukhang may malalim na iniisip.
Jessice: (thought) Ano ba’ng problema? Bakit hanggang ngayon single pa rin ako?
Not only will it be less wordy but it also gives the readers the instant impression who this main character is even without knowing her name.
Tip # 3
In prose, you’re thinking in paragraph form and when to press the Enter key to drop the next line.
In comics, you’re thinking in pictures or frames and what would be the effect once you flip the page and reveal the next scene.
In Chapter 1 of Wandering Heart, it opens a scene where Jessica is inside the Cape’s Corner and thinking about her love life. She is with her friends and discussing her lack of suitors until her friends called out for the hero Sky. Sky rejected her friend’s suggestions about dating Jessica, leaving her offended and depressed. However, everything that happened in the first chapter was condensed into six pages for the comic manuscript because only the lines that could help introduce the characters and the conflict should be visible in the first few pages of the comics. Comics has faster transitions.
Tip # 4
In prose, you’re writing a scene as if the imagination of your readers will play like a movie.
In comics, you’re providing the storyboard for them to see and make them feel like the pictures are moving as if they are watching a movie.
Tip # 5
In prose, there’s often smooth and longer transition.
In comics, there are abrupt and random surprises that can be very useful depending on the effect the writer wanted to achieve. Smooth transition is also a must though.