I can't write the same way I did three and a half years ago. I blame MegaTokyo.
Helping out with this comic for three and a half years has pretty much shaped my life. I started as a computer science major with a strong interest in writing short stories and poems. And then Rodney/Largo roped me into editing some scripts that he'd written, because I had a reputation for being anal about spelling and grammar.
And, after three and a half years of poking at various scripts, here I am with a degree in English, focusing on "folklore, culture and mythology" (read: comic books and movies). My junior paper was on Transmetropolitan. My senior paper was a movie script. Well, okay, I had two senior papers, and the other one was a Faulkner essay. But one of them was a screenplay, and that has to count for something.
Another sign of change is that I simply can't write short stories anymore. Not that I was particularly good at writing them in the first place, mind you--I was trying too hard to write stream of consciousness, and in doing so tended to wander off on tangents. But writing scripts, reading screenplays and studying graphic novels by the metric assload has rendered me incapable of writing a short story without thinking "Hmm, this part would be much better illustrated, so I could use body language and foregrounding to express everything in a few strokes of a pencil instead of 200 words. And then in the next panel, I could shift this and this to fit, and..."
I bet that Will Eisner is patting himself on the back right now.
So, yeah, anything I write these days has to be a script, or I lose track of where I'm going. While I'm not sure whether or not this is a positive development, it's certainly gone well with my sporadic writing style. Every so often when the mood strikes, I'll sit down with a notebook and scribble down some dialogue and stage directions. If I like it, I start building around it until I have something resembling thirteen to twenty pages. While I tend to throw out a lot of what I write, I've gotten a lot of practice to the point that I'm almost satisfied with my technique.
How this applies to the back end of MegaTokyo--the comic, not the website--is interesting. Fred often starts with art and fits dialogue to it after the art is finished to his satisfaction, similar to the old Stan Lee method. It frustrates me to no end, since I always start with dialogue and adjust the image in my head to fit it, but most times we meet somewhere in the middle and no one ends up bashing their heads against the wall.
Sometimes, I get the urge to write a short story again. But after a few minutes, it always turns back into dialogue with stage directions, so I don't know if I'll ever write a whole story again. I also don't know if I care. Because, dammit all, I like writing for comics. It makes my short attention span happy.