Wednesday, 8 June 2011

DemonHanzo's Make Your Own Comic Book: A self Journey To Making A Comic Pt.5

Make your Own Comic Book: Driving The story Forward With Character Motivations

Now that we have an idea on what our story is about, we need to develop our character motivations. This is going to make the writing easier when you make your own comic book. You need to develop characters that feel like the genuine article. They need to be well rounded. You need to know them so well that you can drop them into any situation and know what would happen. 

How do we do this? How do flesh out the characters so well that readers will know what they would do? The good thing about this is you probably already know a few characters like this. 

Let's take Batman as an example. Many of us know that Batman uses his wits to solve his cases.We know him so well that there are some things that don't fit the Batman persona. Let's use an example from the movie Batman An Robin. Yeah I can hear the groans already. Do any of you remember the Batman credit card? I do. I wish I didn't but I do. Why did that not read as genuine? Was it the fact that it was a lame joke? Batman doesn't make lame jokes. Was it the fact that Batman was spending an obscene amount of money? Batman doesn't spend money as such, Bruce Wayne does, but he does so in a way that it is never traced back to him being revealed as Batman. Batman is smart and the credit card reads as plutonium grade stupid.

Could you imagine what Batman really would have done? You probably could and there is no one right answer to the question, only wrong answers to that question. How can there be wrong solutions to a problem that has many solutions that work? Lets talk about tomatoes for  a second. One might use tomatoes in a salad, or in a soup or in a sauce. The same tomato has many uses. The same tomato however one looks at it, should not be regarded as a stain remover. We know the uses of the tomato, just as we know what batman is and what he is not.

The question now is how does this help to flesh out your characters? Well there is no one way to go about this, however my suggestion is to use a few writing prompts. There are many websites that offer writing prompts for you here's one

The key to this exercise lies in your ability to do the prompts as the character whose motivation you are trying to understand. The more you understand you Character the more you can drop that character into different Ideas and concepts. And they will read as genuine. You won't have to force your character to do anything they will do it themselves.

Here's a quick prompt:  Have your character write about deceit.

If we were writing about deceit from Batman's point of view we are almost guaranteed that he would write about the deceit that goes on in the criminal world of Gotham city. He might write about how the criminal mind is like a pack of rats devouring each other. They use the means of deception to gain a strong foot hold on their ascension into the ranks of Gotham's elite. Gotham's political system is full of deception. Crooked lawyers who use there silver tongues to keep the scum of the city on the streets. Crooked cops who are on the take who deceive the public they are sworn to protect. Judges who have sold their souls to achieve  worldly gains. All who deceive the hard working decent citizens of Gotham. It makes me sick to my stomach the lies served in the name of the people. And it oozes. It oozes like a pollution into the system. The system is ailing and needs some one to administer the medicine it needs. That medicine has a name. That name is Justice.

It doesn't matter if it's a little rough. Most likely you're the only one who is going to read it. But also don't be afraid to pull out a line or two you like and add it to a story. This exercise is to help you understand your character, that's it.

Now I must fend off the tree sloths before they attack.


  1.'re on the right track. Batman WANTS justice. That is the key to writing a believable character in comics - ironically many don't pick up on that. Many neophytes out there will put together a personality, which they tend to think is all they need. That means a bunch of traits without a unifying purpose. You can make a character neurotic, funny, angry, etc. - but it's only when they start to want something that they really come to life.

    Spiderman also wants justice (yet unlike Batman, he's driven by guilt instead of revenge). Linus wants his security blanket. Wile E. Coyote wants the Roadrunner for a meal. It's those wants that make a character easy to write.

    I recommend you read the text by Scott McCloud, Making Comics. It covers the issue of character more in-depth.

  2. Cool. Thanks for the suggestion I will have to track a copy down.