4 Must-Read Books on Storytelling for Comic Book Writers

When it comes to writing compelling stories for comics, having a solid understanding of narrative structure, character development, and the craft of writing is essential. While there are many great books out there specifically about writing for comics, writers can also learn a lot from general books on storytelling. Here are four must-read books that, while not explicitly about comics, provide invaluable insights and tools for crafting powerful comic book narratives:

On Writing by Stephen King

Part memoir, part master class, Stephen King’s On Writing is an entertaining and practical guide from one of the world’s bestselling authors. King shares his own experiences and growth as a writer along with concrete advice on the tools of the trade – plot, character, theme, dialogue, and more. His no-nonsense wisdom and memorable anecdotes make this a fun and illuminating read for comic writers looking to strengthen their storytelling chops.

Learn more about On Writing here.

Story by Robert McKee

Legendary story consultant Robert McKee’s book Story deconstructs the elements of screenwriting and storytelling with comprehensive lessons on the principles and craft behind cinematic narrative. While focused on film, his in-depth explorations of story design, character, scene construction, and dialogue are highly applicable to visual storytelling in comics. It’s a dense read, but an indispensable resource for serious comic scribes.

Learn more about Story here.

The Anatomy of Story by John Truby

In The Anatomy of Story, screenwriter John Truby takes a scalpel to story structure, detailing 22 steps to becoming a master storyteller. Breaking down plot, character, theme, and more, Truby reveals the hidden patterns in stories that resonate with audiences. For comic writers seeking to craft tight, well-structured tales, Truby’s methods provide a roadmap to stronger storytelling.

Learn more about The Anatomy of Story here.

The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

Editor Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid outlines a way to analyze and construct stories that satisfy readers’ expectations and desires. By combining the insights of many story theorists, Coyne presents useful frameworks and tools for building engaging narratives that work. Comic writers can make use of the book’s practical exercises and structural models to troubleshoot and improve their own stories.

Learn more about The Story Grid here.

While not a replacement for studying the unique craft of writing for comics, these four books contain universal principles of storytelling that can help elevate any comic writer’s work. By diving deep into the mechanics of story, character, and the writing process, they provide a rock-solid foundation to build your comic scripting skills upon. Consider them essential additions to any comic writer’s bookshelf.

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Frank Gogol is a San Francisco-based comic book writer. He is the writer of Dead End Kids (2019), GRIEF (2018), No Heroine (2020), Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job (2021), and Unborn (2021) as well as his work on the Power Rangers franchise.

Gogol’s first book, GRIEF, was nominated for the Ringo Award for Best Anthology in 2019. Gogol and his second book, Dead End Kids, were named Best Writer and Best New Series of 2019, respectively, by the Independent Creator Awards.