Infinity on 30 Credits a Day

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Dialogue Writing Guidelines

This page is a guide and resource for volunteer dialogue writers.

Dialogue writing tasks are typically assigned to multiple writers at once. When all the dialogues are in, they go up for a vote of all the registered readers to decide which one of the options will be used as the primary alpha dialogue for the page in question. The other versions may be used as alternate dialogues for the same page.

Dialogue tasks come in two different types:

  1. Writing dialogue without art. There will be a general scene description from a story writer, and your task will be to flesh it out in detail, writing the dialogue and doing basic blocking of the comic panels. Blocking is a term borrowed from stage direction, and refers to deciding and describing what is illustrated in each panel. You shouldn't go into great detail: a description like "cockpit interior" may be sufficient. If some small detail is needed to make your dialogue work, then describe it, but otherwise leave the details of the artistic layout up to the artists who will be drawing the page.
  2. Writing dialogue to fit existing art. In this case you have a piece of artwork with panels and details already drawn. Your task will be to write dialogue that matches the scene being illustrated and more or less follows the story plot as written for the page. Since the art is already made, you don't need to specify any blocking elements; just write the dialogue.

Probably the most important thing about writing dialogue for comics is: Don't write too much. It's far too easy to write dialogue that is simply too big to fit into the available artwork. Once you've written your dialogue, you should go through it, sentence by sentence, and see if you can cut anything out to make it shorter. Sharp, concise dialogue is far better than having characters engage in long waffly speeches with lots of redundant words.

A big offender is conversations. Avoid the temptation to have characters exchange speech back and forth within a single panel. If they really need to exchange sentences like this, spread it over multiple panels. Three separate speech bubbles in a single panel is pushing it, four is simply too many.

Submitted dialogue must be approximately PG-rated. You can use mild curse words such as "damn" and "we're screwed". If you need stronger swearing, invent something - it's the future after all. Dialogue may be edited to fix spelling, grammar, and for clarity and brevity, but the intention of your submission won't be changed.

Dialogue writers should use the following example format for submissions. A standard format makes it easy for me to compile into voting forms, for voters to read and understand your dialogue, and for artists and letterers to follow when doing work based on the dialogue.

Dialogue with blocking, for story without artwork:

1 {External view of the Infinity. We can see Jake's face peering out through the cockpit window.}
1 [caption]: The Infinity glides through the inky blackness of space, far ahead of any other competitors.
2 {Zoom in to cockpit window, exterior view, showing Jake with Daisy sitting further back, studying a console.}
3 {Interior of the cockpit. We can see Jake and Daisy.}
3 Jake: The race is going well so far.
3 Daisy: {worried look on face} Yeah...
4 Daisy: But I still don't think we should have used Jimmers to fix the engine like that.
5 {Engine room. Jimmers is running inside a giant hamster wheel.}
5 [sound effect]: Squeak.. squeak...

Dialogue without blocking, for existing artwork:

1 [caption]: The Infinity glides through the inky blackness of space, far ahead of any other competitors.
3 Jake: The race is going well so far.
3 Daisy: Yeah...
4 Daisy: But I still don't think we should have used Jimmers to fix the engine like that.
5 [sound effect]: Squeak.. squeak...

Points to note:


Infinity on 30 Credits a Day
Last updated: Monday, 18 June, 2007; 03:59:46 PDT.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Licence, except where indicated otherwise.
David Morgan-Mar. dmm@infinityon30credits.net
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