Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Writing for Cartoons 6 - Spelling, Grammar, Clarity : The Boy Who Cried Rat Outline

Spelling and Grammar
You are going to have to use some words when you write a cartoon-in outlines and premises -which the audience never sees, and in dialogue - which the audience hears. If you spell badly and can't construct a sentence, then it's pretty certain that you'll have trouble constructing a paragraph, let alone a story. You also won't be able to write effective dialogue if you have trouble with language.

Spelling and grammar use the same kind of thinking that writing stories and doing storyboards does, so if you can't spell or construct clear sentences, you might want to give up on the idea of being a writer. You can still be a good artist. It's a lot harder to be an artist than a writer anyway.


You should be able to control your ideas in a way that the audience sees, feels and understands what YOU want them to see, feel and understand. You have to be able to present your ideas simply and clearly. Vagueness is a sign of poor writing.

Don't try to be fancy or show-offy. That tends to muddy up your ideas and baffles the readers, artists and audience. Use the fewest possible words to say what is happening.

Clarity is also important to the artists who have to follow up on what your ideas are. If they have to muddle through vague writing, storyboarding and overly complicated details, they will have trouble understanding what the point is that they have to convey to the audience.

If you are writing an outline, write with short simple sentences that tell clearly what is happening. Do not try to impress the artists with fancy-ass flowery prose and inverted sentence structures. They won't be impressed. They will be frustrated and confused and will not do their jobs well.

NOTE! This is an 11 minute cartoon. The outline is just 4 pages long.

Clarity applies to every aspect of art and entertainment-to the telling of the story, to the posing, the sfx, the music, the acting. The best directors are the ones who state their ideas in the clearest non-ambiguous manner.

Here are some notes a secretary wrote up from a meeting at Spumco. We were studying Tex Avery cartoons. Tex was a master of clarity.