More With Chuck Dixon, Comic Book Icon (part 2)  ‘I’m strictly a writer. I write the scripts that the artist works from. It’s a format much like a screenplay, broken down panel-by-panel with descriptions of what should appear in each panel. And all the dialogue and captions in place. I wrote quite a few Simpsons comic book stories over a ten year period.’

Q. Was that a challenge to switch to a novel format and ‘point-of-view’?

CD. Mostly it was the intimidation factor. In comics, my chosen medium, the bench for writing talent is pretty thin. But in prose fiction I’m up against thousands of years of awesome writing. I mean, who the hell do I think I am going to work in the same shop as Alexander Dumas or Jane Austen?

And now I have to actually write descriptive text that evokes images in the minds of casual readers. In comics my descriptions are utilitarian. I simply tell the artist what needs to be in the panel. It’s not artful in any way. In prose fiction I need to be more subtle; more circumspect. More of a wordsmith which is something I have never considered myself to be. But pacing, plotting, characterization and all the rest are the same for comics as they are for prose.

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative?

CD. I write even when I don’t feel like it. The crushing deadlines of comics taught me that. Writer’s block? Phah! You have to hunt down those muses and cage them.Dixon.WonderWoman.cover

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

CD. I read an interview with a screen writer who said that he never writes down his last idea of the day. In that way he knows where he’s going to begin the next day. It sounds like a silly gimmick but, trust me, it works. It’s like having the pumped primed before I even sit down to write. Because getting started is the second hardest part of writing.
The first hardest part is that middle passage where I’m past the halfway point and have convinced myself that everything I’m doing sucks.

Dixon.cover.1Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

CD. I tend to define my characters through their actions. They have to be up for what I’m going to put them through in the story. Once I have the story I build the character that can make that story happen. I prefer solid stories populated with interesting characters rather than stories that are only about the characters with the story being secondary. I’m not into “portrait” stories. And my characters, beyond the basic requirements of the story, are either created from whole cloth or constructed from people I know or have met.

Q. What inspired your story/stories ?

CD. I never know how to answer that. Mostly I write the kind of stuff I’d like to read.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

CD. Yes. That’s when it’s all going right. When eight or ten pages of solid, usable stuff seems to flow from my brain to the page.

Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?

CD. Is it corny to say that my readership is my muse? The fact that my stuff is being read by an audience who likes it and wants more drives me more than almost anything else. Anything else except my compulsion to make things up, of course.

This new feature with the Kindle program, where you can see how many pages are being read each day, is compelling. For a writer it’s as close to performing live as I’ll ever get. I can release a novel and see how many people are reading it that day. My latest, Levon’s Night, was being read within hours of becoming available. It’s a kick to see that.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

CD. When I started getting paid. I fiddled with comics stuff a lot, drawing my own stuff because I didn’t have an artist to work with. I worked doing storyboards for an ad agency. I wasn’t one to write short stories or poetry or anything. I didn’t fill notebooks with treatments and characters and such. My first paying work was in children’s books. That’s when it became real for me. Deadlines, contracts and a paycheck. That’s when it looked like I might be able to write for a living.

Q. How long after that were you published?

CD. Immediately. But a better question would be, how long between that first job and your second one? An eternity. I was a year between writing gigs in kids’ books. It was all hustle for little reward.

Q. What makes a writer great?

Did you miss Part I?  Click here
Part 3 of this fascinating interview coming October 3th
DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!      Grant Blackwood (Tom Clancy) in Sept. and Julia London in October and Matt Jorgenson later this winter. Coming in December!  My review of a new release by Dean Koontz, book.._AA160_
Ashley Bell.

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