Imaginary Skies Art by Carina Bruce-Kadow

How I write: Nyx+Nyssa in October 2018


First things first: this is not a how to write. Neither is it a guranteed good way to do it, perhaps not even for me. Nope, this is just how I write my comic, right now in late 2018.

After a phase of seriously overthinking things, I decided to keep my process as simple as possible. Right now it’s just two steps, and the second one’s mainly for book-keeping.

1. Draft directly in Clipstudio Paint EX

Drafting Nyx+Nyssa, Example Panel
This is actually one of the cleaner panels in the draft. There are even expressions!

Yup, Clipstudio Paint‘s the program that ate a weeks worth of work just recently. Annoyingly it’s been a bit of a crashy mess after the latest upgrade, but it is still invaluable for my work. I use EX for the page manager, which allows me to easily shuffle around the pages – And since I write my dialogue onto the blank page and scribble panels and characters around the words, I really need the ease of page-management EX offers.

Yes, I work without script. I tried to do scripts before, but it they never worked out for me so far – I need to see a page in order to assess. And for that I need the panels, dialogue and rough scribbles of my characters. These scribbles are rough. Very rough. Only main characters have face privileges, and even then I identify Nyx by her shock of hair and Nyssa by her horn. I don’t need much to visualise the final result, provided I got the spatial relations down.

So my “how I write” is kind of simple: I do one rough layout after another, roughly in chronological order. Some key scenes were laid out earlier, but I do connect them as fast as possible. Mind you, I know each key stone scenes in this book, even if I haven’t written them down. I’ve sat with that story for a few years now and the big events are set in stone. It’s the small but important connective tissue around those big events that I am currently trying to nail down.

2. Keep and Update the Google Tables page breakdown

This is a recent addition to my workflow, added just last week. It’s basically just a table with page number, a quick summery what’s happening on it and its stage: Planned, Initial Layout done… and that’s it for now, since I’m still drafting. I’ll likely add further stages as soon as I need them.

This page breakdown is not a script – I use it strictly for reference, and for to give me an idea about what’s going to happen on the next three pages. This plan’s never correct, though, and it always needs updating. It’s just a starting point, but still: It neatly cuts down on the time spent staring blankly at the empty page while wondering what comes next, though.

Furthermore, it helps with time-assessment. I have a goal of drafting five pages a week, and with this table I can easily see if I am on track for it, or not.

Any further steps? Not yet.

How I write is pretty simple, isn’t it?

At least for now, that is. For the future I predict editing. Lots and lots of editing.  And even more editing than that. I’ll likely end up redoing whole scenes as soon as I have a better idea of what to foreshadow when – and a few of the earlier scenes don’t quite fit anymore, because the shape of the story changed away from my initial plans.

By Carina
Imaginary Skies Art by Carina Bruce-Kadow