5 Tips to Consider When Writing Your First Graphic Novel (Collaborative Post)

  *This is a collaborative post. I have never actually written a graphic novel, lol. Although the technical definitions and characteristics ...


*This is a collaborative post. I have never actually written a graphic novel, lol.

Although the technical definitions and characteristics of comics and graphic novels like the classic illustrated series are different, they are both visual art forms that tell stories. They are usually structured in a sequence of panels, the illustrations of characters and objects are simplified and exaggerated, and the actions are usually explained with the accompanying text. It's easy to see why this simple style has long appealed to kids, but auction results show that the love of comic illustrations isn't limited to kids. In fact, eager shoppers have parted ways with millions of bucks for rare and precious versions of certain comic illustrations. Graphic novels are books too, and absolutely "count" as reading.

When you start making graphic novels, you need to use your creative writing skills, illustration and storyboard skills, and most likely collaboration skills. It will help if you have experience in comic book writing, but usually, the graphic novel format is longer and more detailed than the comic book format. Whether you are writing your first graphic novel or your tenth graphic novel, here are some writing techniques to make this process as efficient as possible:


Learn other comics and graphic novels. If you do not use comics as a medium, it is difficult to delve into the graphic format for the first time. There are reasons why certain stories pop off the page in graphical form. 


Choose a visually interesting setting for your graphic novel. Each graphic novel page contains two forms of illustrations: foreground and background. Make sure the background content is interesting enough to support a book's story. Many graphic novelists choose New York City as their backdrop, perhaps because of its distinctive and striking skyline. At the same time, science fiction writers discovered that outer space is a rich background for graphic novels.


Give your graphic novels as much texture detail as traditional novels. If you are writing your first graphic novel after finishing the previous prose novel, handle the writing process in the same way. You need a fascinating protagonist, a well-thought-out backstory, a group of supporting characters, and a hostile villain (or supervillain) to be the source of the main conflict. But keep in mind that the graphic novel does not limit the author to the common two-dimensional villain. The "villain" of a graphic novel can be as intangible as systemic injustice. 


When you sketch, storyboard, and write, start to think about the consequences. Graphic novels are rarely available on-demand; most are part of a limited series. Some may go further than this, but they rarely last forever like the comic strips of famous cartoonists. When you plan your graphic novel, consider turning it into a larger graphic story told in installments. 


Writing for graphic novel audiences. In the process of writing, it is important to remember that people who avidly consume graphic novels are not necessarily people who read traditional prose novels. They may not even read short comics. If you don't know graphic novel readers, look them up. Many major cities host conferences for various fan communities; graphic novel fans are well represented in these respects. Of course, the easiest way to understand the fan mindset is to become a fan yourself. Then write the type of story you want to read as a fan.

Have you ever written a comic book, graphic novel, or straight text? Do these tips ring true to you?

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