Lecture 1: How to Write an Elevator Pitch

I’ve prepped a quick 15 minute lecture. It’s a simple clean lecture on how to write a pitch.

Right Click Here to Download MP3.

If you prefer  to read instead of listen here is my lecture notes I used this past semester in class.

Assignment 1:

Write an Elevator Pitch for your story. An Elevator pitch should make clear what the premise of the story is.  It should include your main character, what that character wants, and the antagonistic force that’s getting in their way. The pitch should read nicely (no grammar mistakes) and make clear what the tone and genre of your story is.

My plan is to have you guys email me your pitches. I’ll write you back notes and then you’ll re-write the pitches. Later in the semester when we start doing more intensive writing assignments I’ll try to schedule one on one Skype calls so we can go over your work, but for now I think email is fine.

Lecture 2: Getting to Know Your Character!
Ok No real lecture this week.  I was going to talk about character and voice but I think that’s better suited when we talk about dialog.

What I haven’t told you guys yet is that the end goal is for you to walk away with a 22 page finished script. That 22 pages may only be the first 10th of your overall story or it could be the full story. You’ll decide that when we start talking about structure.  …but anyway we are building up to 22 page. That’s the end goal.

Assignment 2:

Write a two page biography of your protagonist.  The catch is I want you to write it in first person.

Make sure you cover basic things like: age, name, species, and such. However I don’t want this just to be a laundry list of facts about the character. You already know what your main character’s big goal is. So talk about that. Talk about not just what that goal is but why they want it. Explain what their needs are. While doing so you can also talk about other things they like or any other odd quirks (Maybe your character is a caffeine addict and they don’t function in the morning without their cup of coffee?). Whatever! Just use this time to get to know your character better.

In addition I want you to also start thinking about what your character’s flaws are. No one is perfect. Think about yourself, your boyfriend, wife, best friend, parents or whomever. Human beings are an odd mix of flaws. It’s those flaws that make a character interesting. No one wants to read a story about a perfect person. The flaws also don’t need to be big and over the top. I’m not saying you need to make your main character bulimic or a drug addict. Maybe  your character is a Type-A control freak, that’s a fine flaw. Or maybe your character is too bubbly (admit it you’ve met at least one of those people who always come off happy and nice no matter what!). In Volume 1 of “Holiday Wars” Tegan’s big struggle is with her self esteem (which I think is one of the reasons I think I ended up with a lot of young female readers).  …so lots of things can be flaws and they don’t have to be huge or overly dramatic.

So in summary…

1) Give me a 1-2 page letter written by your main character where they talk about their life. Make sure it is in first person.

2) Pick your characters main flaw and let me know what it is.

Lecture 3: Structure!
Remember how I didn’t give yo a lecture last week? I’m making it up to you with two lectures this week. The first is audio. You can listen to it by right clicking and saving the link below:

Creating Character Lecture

Next I want you guys to start thinking about the big picture. In this class you will be writing 22 pages of script. That’s basically one comic.  The question however is how big is your story? Are you going to tell your whole story in one comic? Chances are no. So how big is your story? Will it take four issues? Ten? twenty two?  Unfortunately I can’t answer that for you.  If this was Hollywood I would say “Yeah your script will be between 100-120 pages” because that’s how screenplays are and that’s how long movies are. But we are talking about comics. There are no set rules on how long a story has to be. So do me a favor and read this lecture:

Structure Lecture

That lecture (which I use with my cartooning class) gives you a really strong idea of how Hollywood works. You can also use a lot of the stuff mentioned there in figuring out your story.

Assignment 3:

1) Write to me and explain to me how long you think your story is (22 pages, 60 pages, 400 pages?). Make sure you explain to me why you think it’s that long.
2) Using the structure lecture write a one page treatment for your story.
3) Now that you know your character’s main flaw write me a paragraph explaining their arc.