Novels are a “complete” storytelling medium. By that I mean that we authors can do everything it takes to bring a story alive in the mind of a reader:
- Create a world through word pictures and action
- Create conflict between characters or other forces
- Create character and personality through imagery and action
- Show the thoughts of characters
- Create story with a sequence of words, actions, or events
- Authors stage things exactly the way they want them
- Authors are directors who have their characters do exactly as they wish in what they say, or do, or how they appear
- Authors are the actors in a story, too, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to illustrate characters and action with their words—it’s the writer who puts the scowl on a character’s face
- Authors have absolute control over what goes on the page (yes, editors are a factor, but the final word is the author’s)
Movies are a fantastic and amazing storytelling device and can do some things better than a novel (a scream is really a scream in a movie), but I don’t think they’re as complete a medium as a novel.
- While a movie can show a scene quickly without using all those words a novel would take, it can’t imbue the scene with characterization the way a novel can with experiential description
- A movie can include the thoughts of a character, but imperfectly—does the expression on an actor’s face communicate the richness of inner monologue? Can a voiceover be anything but an intrusion on a movie scene where a thought in a novel is a natural part of the fabric?
- A director can't absolutely control everything in a scene--he/she will come very, very close, but I'll wager that directors often end up with shortcomings that they just couldn't fix
Comics, on the other hand, can do it all
These are from In the Beginning, a comic strip I developed years ago and never found a home for. It grew out of an even older strip that was a spoof of the Tarzan stories and that were published in a Philadelphia newspaper for 6 months before I retired it. The paper is now gone as well. But even these few examples show what a simple comic can do.
Create a world—note the little treehouse they live in, the volcano in the background. And the characters add emotional content and conflict
Thanks to the thought balloon, you can show thoughts that give insight into a character.
And conflict—well, that’s just a matter of creating characters who are in opposition because of what they think, do, and believe.
And finally, there’s the opportunity to focus on great themes such as chocolate.
For what it’s worth.
© 2012 Ray Rhamey