Tips for writing for graphic novels
It may initially seem a little impossible for an individual to be a writer for a graphic novel. Surely the fact that a graphic novel (often referred to as a comic) is made up of images removes the need for a writer at all? Surely it is an illustrator who creates a graphic novel? Ah well, that’s where you’re wrong. There is a need for writers within the world of comic books. It can just be a little tricky at times defining exactly what these writers do!
Will Eisner, in his book Comics and Sequential Art, stated that there is only one real definition of what graphic book writing is and that is, ‘the conception of an idea, the arrangement of image elements, and the construction of the sequence of the narration and the composing of dialogue.’ Hum, all very well and good but how do you put this definition into practical use if you are a budding graphic novel writer? Let’s look at the key steps for creating a graphic novel, this should help any writers out there who want to turn their hand to writing for this particular genre.
- Come up with a good idea! Well yes, this piece of advice is crucial to all writers, regardless of what genre of writing they’ve chosen to pursue. All novels require a decent storyline to get them moving and graphic novels are no different. So you first need to identify the outline of a plot for your story. A summary of this plot should be about 1 A4 page in length.
- Once you’ve got the outlines of a plotline that you’re happy with, you need to move on to creating a fuller script. A script in this sense is something that is more detailed than the script of say a screenplay. A script produced by a graphic novel writer needs to contain exact instructions for an illustrator. As the writer for this novel you need to take control of the layout of each page, and of the details that you want to see contained within each of the panels on every page. Now is the time for dictating detail, if you want to retain the power of storytelling.
- As you create your script, you’ll also need to think about any words that will actually be included in the novel. Not all graphic novels are entirely word free! You could for example ask that the illustrator includes some form of narration before certain panels, or you could ask that some of the characters speak a few words at different intervals. This level of information needs to be included in your script.