Comic books are written in script format, very much like for TV or movie script. It even involves setting shot descriptions for each panel. There’s a reason storyboards for movies look like comic books. It’s very similar formatting.
Print journalism calls for the author to try to be as invisible as possible. The author is a reporter, a very specific kind of storyteller. And, of course, it’s a cardinal sin in journalism to make things up.
Fiction, obviously is the opposite. The stories are, by definition, made up.
But there’s another difference between fiction and nonfiction: the word “said.”
In journalism, you’re required to have the word “said” with every quote, whether direct or indirect. It’s best not to substitute another word, like “stated.” “Said” is considered neutral, so it’s the best choice.
But the current style in fiction is to avoid or eliminate dialogue tags. In other words, “said” may be good in journalism, but it’s bad in fiction.
I also learned in the process of going through editing that two other words are to be avoided in fiction: “and” and “that.”
If you think about it, these make sense. In the vast majority of instances, “that” is actually sloppy writing. It’s a vague word taking the place of something more precise or descriptive. As to “and,” it can usually be avoided by structuring things so they run on a bit less.
I have to admit, the first time removing “and” and “that” were suggested to me recently, I balked. All I could think of was the dialogue within the story. There was even a moment when one of the characters said, “That’s that,” and I knew it. I was freaking out.
But when I got into the actual editing, I was surprised at how easy most of the changes were. A few weren’t. There were one or two places where I left an “and” or “that” in the story, but the vast majority were relatively easy to remove.
“That’s that?” It was replaced with a different quote.
One thing I’ve found in all the media I’ve worked in is the value of having a good editor. The editing process can be stressful, but it’s all geared to making your work — script, nonfiction or fiction — the best it can be. I don’t know if my editors always know it, but I appreciate them and their work.
“And that’s that,” he said. :-)