Every writer has a unique style that reflects their personality and experiences. I have a fairly laid back personality, generally-speaking, but I am very passionate with my creativity. That’s true for every aspect of it, including writing, art and music. Focusing on writing only, I asked myself what has my style been? I looked to past examples to gauge my answer.
I began writing with comic books as a child and continued that into adulthood. Even though I improvised the writing at first (which occasionally forced me to "retcon" or use "retroactive continuity" to write myself out of a dead-end plot), I began to plan out my comic stories in advance. By the time my wife and I started the “Due East” webcomic, we were scripting each page. That worked much better, letting us map the direction of the story.
One of the advantages of creating comics is that the art does the describing for you. If you can draw the scenery the way you see it in your head, at least well enough for the average reader to recognize each element, then all you have to focus on is dialogue and how you want your characters and story to develop. It’s still writing but it’s not novelization. I had to learn that skill when I made the jump from comics to writing books.
Still, there are commonalities in the writing style between my comics and my novelizations. I generally like a fairly brisk pace when possible, though I do recognize that all characters need a chance to slow down, relax and breathe a little. I like action and adventure but that’s meaningless without well-developed characters. I’m a hopeless romantic, so there will always be elements of that within my stories. And I do have a sense of humor, ranging from dry to silly. I love parody but it’s rare to find opportunities to work that into your average story. And lastly, I can be very intense at times. This is definitely reflected in almost all of my stories. At some point, maybe more than once over the course of a tale, things will get intense. It may not last for long but it will occur and it will serve a distinct purpose.
And now, I think it’s time for some examples from my comics:
From 2007 to 2008, my wife and I co-wrote a Christian slice-of-life webcomic called "Due East." It was about a multiracial family (Caucasian and Asian husband/father, African-American wife/mother with two daughters together) who experience divorce and the splitting up of the family. But the parents stay in touch because of their children and eventually fall back in love. The story is about their attempts to heal their family. Their youngest daughter's best friend happens to be Christian.
A pivotal plot twist occurs during a strong thunderstorm. The younger, 16-year old daughter, Brielle, is at home when the storm hits and she is faced with a life-or-death situation.
You can see the page at this link.
From 2012 until 2015, I created a science-fantasy webcomic called "Super Chibi Girl" (or "SCG" for short). The name was a play on manga- and anime-style titles but the comic itself was mostly serious and I drew it in a semi-realistic style.
But by 2014, I realized that it would take most of a decade to draw the whole story and knew I didn't have time or patience for that. So I started novelizing the story.
SCG was a story about a mixed-race (Caucasian father, African-American mother) 24-year old college graduate, Allison Fe'oma. She was an aspiring journalist who got caught up in a civil conflict that broke out on Earth between extraterrestrials from a world named "B'wahii." She is mortally wounded but one of the "good" aliens saves her by exposing her to a sentient energy source (called "The Blue") that has a symbiotic relationship with Jeff's people, the B'wahii. After Allison is exposed to the energies, she becomes part-alien in addition to being biracial. She ends up marrying Jeff and they have a daughter, Dawn, who is half-human and half-B'wahii.
Here is a sample from one of the later novelized chapters of SCG:
White Dagger had never beheld The Blue this closely before. He had certainly never been inside The Blue. Yet here he stood, bathed in the glowing azure and white light of what had been his enemy for most of his life. He felt The Blue’s presence all around him, like a living thing -- and indeed it was -- but White Dagger had never attributed such qualities to it. To him, it was a game piece on a strategy board, a faceless enemy to overcome. And now, he needed its help in order to save his world.
“All you have to do is talk to The Blue. It will hear and understand you,” Jeff said.
Dawn stood next to her father, Jeff. She was still edgy being this close to White Dagger. But today, there was more at stake than her feelings towards the man who had once maimed her. Two worlds and many lives were hanging in the balance of what this group of people did next. So she said nothing and held her feelings in. Despite that, her tail swished behind her like a restless cat.
Dani Glassberg felt terrified yet exhilarated. She knew she was viewing something historic. No, not just viewing, she was participating in this! She was just as needed as any other person present. She had lived all of her life as human, only to find out in the last year that she was half-B’wahii...half-alien. And when she had used the B’wahii abilities of her birthright, it had changed her appearance and brought to the surface some of the hidden B’wahii traits she held within her DNA. Her strawberry-blond hair had become dark blue, her skin had taken on a blue-ish tint and her irises had become white like the B’wahii. Since then, she had struggled with things she had previously taken for granted.
Now to show a little of my romantic side, here's a very different page from Due East at this link.
And here's some humor in Due East, just for fun, at this link.
Sometimes I'll mix the elements for dramatic effect or it's just what the story calls for. The following Due East page glides from humor to tragedy in the same page. Friends Brielle and Carolyn are joking around as they enter Carolyn's home but are blindsided to discover Carolyn's mom dead from a drug overdose.
I'm not afraid to take chances on what I believe will be a good story. Things may get intense, bordering on controversial. But I also balance every idea or line of dialogue against my faith and values. Does the idea make sense? Is the character a Christian? And even if they're not, will what I'm trying to convey be edifying to the reader? Will it magnify the Lord? I have to consider all of that.
Fortunately my wife, Angel, gives me incredibly valuable feedback and insight. She will tell me when she thinks something I wrote does not work, but she does it with love. She is a huge support and I deeply value her input.
Summing everything up, I try to write stories that reflect who I am and what I hold dear. I weave the type of tales that I would like to read. They need a good pace, proper character development and a story that makes sense and leads somewhere. I hope that comes across.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.