As I mentioned in my previous post, the focus of this journey is about learning how to create a graphic novel. The past couple of days, I’ve been scouring the web and reading oh-so-many articles and blog posts. I’ve come across items that have been around for over a decade, and while dated, each and every one of them has something important to add to the overall picture or plan…as well as many focusing on the most important part of getting started, and that is making sure you have a story to tell before you even remotely consider putting stylus to tablet and begin creating the art.
This is also where that ‘due diligence’ comes in. While most artists would probably just want to jump right into making the art, and don’t get me wrong…that may work for many, but what’s holding me back from that is quite a few articles that very specifically mentioned what most web comics (and this can apply to graphic novels as well) seem to be lacking….and that’s a clear understanding of how to write a story that will engage your readers, and/or that they lag in direction and structure. A piece that actually has a story arc, defines each of its characters as part of that story, and gives the reader something to be invested in so that they will continue to read (especially in the case where you want to create a repeating series), and not check out mentally because there’s a clear lack of substance, or the story doesn’t make sense to the reader.
If you’re a visual artist, and you’ve inherited the obligation of writing your own story, that’s all the more reason to use structure and limit where you’re breaking the rules. An important point I want to make here, which was also a reoccurring theme I encountered, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to write your story…meaning you will ultimately choose what works best for you as a writer. However, what is important, is what your story includes, and how your story is structured. I’ve summarized just some of my beginning research in the list below. It’s in no particular order, and only barely grazes the surface of all the information that I’ve read just in the last few days.
- What type of narrative will your story have, and the role it plays in your story’s overall effect.
- Don’t make your story just one more regurgitated version of someone else’s work. Make it your own.
- Establish the novel structure early to simplify the drafting process.
- Creating solid, believable characters, and establish their roles in the story.
- The use of foreshadowing.
- Planning the climax of the story, and a point where readers may doubt if your ‘hero’ is going to come out on top, it will make it all that much more exhilarating when they ‘win.’
- In the ending, don’t cheat your readers out of the perceived ‘reward.’
- Long term story development, as well as development within each novel (if you’re planning on a series)
- (Again, if you’re planning on a series) How each novel relates to the other.
If you’re not interested in the investment, you’re probably going to say “Holy balls, where do I begin?!” I know I did. Just pick a spot and start reading, and make notes. Don’t make notes just for the sake of making notes. Go back and actually read your notes, because you’ll begin to see a structure form…a point where they become more than just scribbles on a page, and actually start taking the shape of an outline that you can follow for creating that great work inside you that’s just screaming to get put into words.
Meanwhile, I’ve got more reading to do….