Writing for Readers and the Weight of Worlds

So, I continue to plow through the book “Writing Fiction for Dummies” and it’s tough.  I mean, it’s like a crash-course in building an entire world, complete with full-color characters, dramatic locations and desperate moments.  When you start out like me, and say “I want to write a graphic novel” (you poor fool!) with just an idea and a few cool scenes and characters, diving into this book is like boot camp.

And it’s great.

Seriously.  Every other page forces me to stop and think about aspects of the story that I never considered before.  Heck, I think of new ideas while I’m reading so often that I have to go back and re-read what I’d just gone though.

For example, one of the questions that really made me do some soul-searching is the question “who are you writing for?”  I think everyone starts out writing because they want to tell a really fun story, but very few people actually think “who the heck is gonna read this thing?” 

It’s important.

It’s important to know your “ideal” audience because you want to write a story that is as compelling as possible, and, let’s face it, you can’t be compelling to everyone.  What works great for teens doesn’t work so well for adults (unless it’s Harry Potter…more on that later), so it is worthwhile to imagine who would enjoy your story most.

The description I came up with sounds remarkably like me…which shouldn’t surprise anyone…we typically write what we enjoy reading….well, we SHOULD, anyway. 

The point of doing the exercise is that it makes you AWARE of the reader.  Of WHO they are and what they might like.  Instead of writing being just an act of sitting and thinking of a story, it forces you to think, “Would Jack (or whatever you might name your imaginary reader) get a thrill out of reading this?”
It makes the reader suddenly present to the writer.  That’s a good thing.
There’s actually a lively little discussion going on about it on the “Making Graphic Novels” forum here.

The next challenging part is world building.  In order to convince the reader to suspend their belief that they are reading a graphic novel, you have to portray a world that is utterly convincing to them, even if it is a fantastic one.  The writers who have most of the heavy lifting to do in this department are the “historical fiction” writer and the “fantasy/sci-fi” writer.  Guess what type of story “Doc Monster” is?  Yep, “historical sci-fi”.
The book suggest that in order to successfully pull off the illusion of a complete world, you have to know 100 times more about the world than the reader does.  That includes tons and tons of stuff that will NEVER make it into your story.  You need to know it anyway.
So, lots of thought, and because it’s a GRAPHIC novel (meaning pictures, not hacksaws and blood), you have to do lots of sketching.  Hopefully, I’ll have some world stuff that I can show you that won’t give away too much.

On the totally random and fun scene, I’m totally loving a website by Daniel and Dawna Davis called “Steam Crow”.  It’s full of just eye-popping goodies that are quite monster focused, so you know I love it.  Make sure to check out their daily webcomic “Monster Commute”.   Amazing stuff.
Oh, and I’m not sure if you’ve seen my YouTube video about my art process, so I thought I should show it here.

Enjoy!  Have a FUN HALLOWEEN if I don’t see you before!



  1. awesome work!
    Also, SteamCrow rules! Daniel and Dawna Davis are about the nicest coolest people in the universe! They live in Phoenix, I lie in Tucson so I run into them every so often!

    Again awesome work, love seeing the process! Need to order some posters now!

  2. B-But…I LOVE you, Matt! Sigh. 🙂
    -Clay, I'd love to meet up with Daniel and Dawna sometime…we've emailed back and forth a bit..I'm a huge fan of their work! I'm looking forward to seeing those posters, myself!

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