Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Art AND Writing

I read a comic recently that was a bit hard for me to get through. I think there's an interesting story there, and the artist is really talented. But the problem I had was that he wrote the book as well, and his command of grammar proved to be overly distracting to me.

If you're an artist, I get that your forte is going to be the illustrations, rather than the text. I'm okay with that. I'm willing to forgive the occasional typo or some dialogue that sounds a bit cumbersome. Heck, I love Jack Kirby's 1970s work at DC despite his absurdly tin ear. But what Kirby did, despite having some goofy word combinations that probably would be hard to speak in context, his grammar and punctuation were right.

You've heard folks complain for years about the proper use of "their", "there" and "they're". And "your" versus "you're." And "its" versus "it's." And the zillion other homophone issues that are out there.

You've probably also heard, somewhere back in school, all the reasons why and where you should use commas, semicolons, colons, etc. "Let's eat, Grandma" versus "Let's eat grandma." Nothing new here.

Odds are that if you don't know those rules, you KNOW you don't know those rules. Every time you come to a point where you need to write there, their or they're, you're at a loss. You know there are some rules around them, but you can't remember them.

That's okay! That's why not everyone is a writer. That's why, despite almost everyone being able to publish any story they want, a lot of it is still dismissed as crap. Because not everyone can write.

Here's where I'm going with this, though. If you know you're not a good writer -- if you know you don't know those rules of grammar and spelling and punctuation -- then doesn't it make sense to AT LEAST get someone who does know something about them to look over your script?

I don't want to call this artist out; I respect his talent and have bought more than a couple independent pieces of his work. But I was really turned off on this latest because the script needed a lot of help. Just from a technical perspective. I bought the book, and I was hoping to review it here, but I won't because I didn't like it. Still great art, decent sounding story, but the actual script was problematic enough to keep me from liking it.

You don't want to or can't afford to hire an actual writer to polish your script? I totally understand. But please get someone to at least look it over. A really bad script over good art is almost as damaging as bad art over a really good story.

1 comment:

Max Vaehling said...

Well, there's writing, and there's writing. A lot of writers focus on writing as an artistic endeavor, and if you're lucky they know a bit about storytelling, too. Writing as in "spelling things on paper" - well, that's for non-creative people to worry about.

Which is okay, as long as you have an editor to do that for you. But it's still categorically wrong. These things will kick you out of the story you're supposed to be immersed in as a reader. A writer who doesn't get the non-creative writing done is also not doing her job as a creative writer. 'Cause that's all about drawing readers in.