I certainly don't regard myself as any kind of guru, but aspiring writers will seek tips, advice, samples and so on wherever they can, and I'm regularly asked for such things. I'm happy to oblige, because there really wasn't much out there when I was getting started either. This page collects what small amount of resources I can provide, and I hope you find it useful.
In my opinion, anyone aspiring to a career as a writer — in any medium — must remember just two golden rules: write what you are passionate about, and never give up. Everything else is just technique, personal style and not a small amount of luck.
Act I of the script for my graphic novel JULIUS, written in 2003. This script shows my original script format (JULIUS was written entirely in Final Draft — see below), and is a good example of how I direct an artist I've never worked with before.
By comparison, this script for issue #9 of WASTELAND shows my more recent format (essentially the same but with some tweaks) and is much looser — by the time this was written, in late 2006, Chris and I had been working together for almost a year. The style and direction is therefore more casual.
SHADOWLAND: BLOOD ON THE STREETS #1
This 2010 format for SHADOWLAND: BLOOD ON THE STREETS is barely any different to 2006, just a couple of tweaks here and there. This was another case of working with a new artist, so some of the direction is quite formal and detailed. By the time this script was written, I'd moved to writing entirely in Scrivener, with Final Draft for final formatting (see below).
I use three main applications for writing:
Scrivener is an outstanding writing application that I use every day, to write everything. Specifically, comics, games and other scripts are plotted, outlined and written in Scrivener, before final formatting is done in Final Draft (see below), while novels and other prose work is written entirely in Scrivener from start to finish. There are many imitators of Scrivener, but the original application remains the best, and is extremely low-priced considering its capabilities. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Click here for articles showing how I use it.
Aeon is a timeline application for the Mac, built specifically for writers. Born from a conversation on the Scrivener users' forum, it sets out to tackle the thorny requirements of timelines for fiction that no other software handled, including story arcs, long-duration events, character chronology, fantasy calendars and more. Right from its early beta stages, Aeon has been and continues to be an invaluable part of my working process, especially on multi-part series.
Final Draft is my preferred pure-scripting application. I've used it in some form or another for almost every comic I've written since 2004. I use a modified template, which Andy Diggle and I designed together for comics (though I've continually tweaked mine ever since, so our respective templates now look very different). I used to write directly into FD, but since adopting Scrivener as my writing software of choice, I now use FD mainly for final formatting, at which it excels — the two apps are very compatible, including direct export from Scrivener to FDX. Nevertheless, some writers dislike Scrivener's IDE-like interface, and for those people Final Draft is my next highest recommendation.
Scrivener features an integrated Comic Script format template which I designed in conjunction with the application's author, and is based on my original Final Draft template. Click here for an article showing how I use this template.
As of Version 8.0, Final Draft includes some graphic novel scripting templates with the application. However, they are in my opinion rather poor and old-fashioned, and I continue to use my own template, as explained above.
My Final Draft template is available in two versions, for v6 or v8.
N.B.: These templates were originally designed for the versions stated of Final Draft, on Mac OS X. They should run on other platforms and versions, but I can't guarantee that, and I don't support it in any way. The templates are supplied as-is, with no warranty or indemnity given or implied. If Final Draft breaks or your computer blows up, it's not my fault. By downloading the templates, you agree to this disclaimer.
Although I haven't yet begun using it myself in earnest, I wrote a piece about using the Fountain markup language to write comics that was rather popular. If that interests you, you can also download my template for it.
Outliners, Mindmappers, Dramatic Structure generators, etc.
Avoid. I'm not joking.
I've tried far too many of these applications, and have yet to find one that's as intuitive, fast, or adaptable as a good pen and a nice thick pad of paper.Damn sight cheaper than most of them, too...
(The closest thing I get to outlining software is Aeon Timeline, as detailed above. But even that's just a way of formalising details that have already been created manually.)
Productivity and process
It's not unusual for me to be writing four or five different projects at once, with more on the horizon. Keeping track of each job's progress, and organising my time so I can give each one the attention it needs, is somewhat of an administrative minefield.
You may also find some of my talks and interviews of interest, as I often get drawn into the subject of craft and process; check the Interviews and Appearances categories of the work journal for write-ups and links.
Backup and syncing
Not strictly to do with writing, I know. But anyone who's ever experienced data loss will know that actually, this is really important. Don't think it can't happen to you, because it most assuredly can... and will.
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
I have a 1TB external drive hooked up to my desktop Mac. Time Machine, which is built-in to OS X, backs up everything I do automatically. I know people who use SuperDuper! and other such 'cloning' backup apps for the same purpose, and I assume there are similar applications available for Windows. The point is, make an external backup of some kind. It requires some initial expense, but the day you need to use it you'll realise the cost is nothing compared to the peace of mind it gives you.
OFF-SITE BACKUP AND SYNCING
External drives are great if your computer goes on the fritz, but what if your house burns down, or you get burgled? And how do you go about making sure you have the most current copies of your work files on all your machines?
I use DropBox, which automatically makes local copies of selected documents on every machine it's installed on, and keeps a copy in the cloud, complete with versioning. The best part is, it requires practically no thought whatsoever. (Like backup, the more you have to think about syncing, the less likely you are to use it.) Without getting too deep into hyperbole, DropBox is what you've always wanted Internet syncing to be. I thoroughly recommend it.