Starting a graphic novel

Getting Started

If you’re reading this, chances are you already have a concept and characters for you graphic novel hammered out. Now comes the hard work of committing the story to paper.

The first thing you may want to do is develop a plan for presenting your concept to your readers: develop your idea, find a hook, choose the storytelling style, find a connection point and set limitations. If any of this sounds alien, do some research online. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to take yourself and your planning seriously first.

The second thing you’ll need to do is to look at the plot – the importance of writing out a synopsis for each chapter or issue is very important. It’s simple, but it works.

One method for doing this is plotting the scenes for a given issue onto a piece of paper. Start by making a list from 1-22 (the average number of pages in a comic) and then ‘guess’ how many pages you’ll need for each scene.  

Scripting

A major barrier for aspiring comic writers can be a simple question of how to lay out the script. One solution is to look at how others have done it, go to your own collection of graphic novels and see how it’s been done before. You will also find that trade paperbacks at your local comic shop will feature behind-the-scenes supplements showcasing scripted pages and preliminary art.

While these provide good guidelines, the truth is that most writers have their own method for scripting comics. You need to script three components clearly: page designations (where a page changes), panel blocking (where the characters are positioned in a panel), and dialogue.

Translating Ideas into Stories

Establishing a world for your characters to inhabit and setting the pace of the story are no easy tasks. However, the best way to do so is to start writing.

Remember, like any other genre, comic writing requires lots of revision, especially when you first start.

If you want to learn more, there is no limit to the amount of online material available to help get started on your graphic novel. But starting the writing process itself is probably the best place to begin, and build from there.