Any novel/story published as a book that follows a comic-strip or pictorial format sequence to tell its story can be put in the category of graphic novels! Visually driven stories are more inviting, artful and engaging to read than just bland, dull pages of content. They are rising in popularity in our tech-savvy world and are very much in vogue! Graphic novels are today being published in almost every genre and it is not just the entertainment-loving commonplace comic book nerds looking for them in the marketplace. I will therefore be answering, ‘how to write a graphic novel’ in this article through a 8 step process, amply illustrated with examples, and tips and tools that will help you write a graphic novel!
So what are we waiting for? Let’s jump right into the process!
Know your Goal!
Step 1 of answering how to write a book review!
There are various steps that that are involved in publishing a graphic novel! You need to know what is your goal and the route you will take to get your graphic novel published! You might want to ask yourself these things-
- Do I just want to write the graphic novel?
- Do I just want to make the art for the graphic novel?
- Do I want to write and illustrate the graphic novel as well and want to approach a literary agent to get it published?
- Do I want to assemble my own team (of writers, artist, letterer and colorist) and self-publish my book?
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Get used to thinking in pictures!
Step 2 of answering how to write a graphic novel!
Any story’s success depends on the writer’s dexterity to write and describe places, people and events that evoke strong visual images in the reader’s mind but in a graphic novel, the images do all of the heavy lifting! If you are used to writing stories in words and are not the one who is drawing the illustrations then getting use to thinking in visuals might take some time. The principle of “show, don’t tell” applies equally to graphic novels as much as any other form of writing (which implies that you have to use visuals to aid your story more than the dialogues!) But graphic novels also employ a principle that says “don’t show and also tell” which means that you don’t have to convey the same things through words as well as images! Redundancy is a bad story-killer!
Cook your idea of the novel- explore the plot-setting, know your characters and write a synopsis of your story
Step 3 of answering how to write a graphic novel!
Brainstorm your idea that you have planned to write your graphic novel on. The process of cooking the story generally involves the steps of introduction to the plot and characters, the central conflict and inciting incident, rising action in the story, the climax, the falling action and finally the resolution of the conflict! Once you know the story, write a synopsis of it. Doing this is very important and would serve as a guide to the further steps in writing a graphic novel while helping you stay true to the direction of your story!
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Break your synopsis into a page-by-page outlining, detailing exactly what happens as the story moves forward!
Step 4 of answering how to write a graphic novel!
Writing the story by breaking its formation into steps will save you from getting caught up writing lengthy dialogues! If you start detailing in the first step itself, you will most likely miss giving the characters cool, visually pleasing actions to do!
Find a good software (and template) to work and break your story into panels!
Step 5 of answering how to write a graphic novel!
To be able to answer how to write a graphic novel, you have to first know the format in which a graphic novel is written
There is a format and template in which you have to prepare the draft for illustration. (This step has to be followed whether you are just writing the novel or you are writing as well as illustrating it) This process is more important if you are only writing your graphic novel because if you don’t follow the established format with fonts, margins, line breaks, descriptions for the illustrator et all, your script won’t be taken seriously. But don’t worry, you are in no dire-straits. There are a number of softwares that can help you achieve this! Given below is a list of some of the most widely used ones,
- Word Processor-Custom Format!
Complete your script using the template!
Step 6 of answering how to write a graphic novel!
Once you have decided the software which you want to use, you have to fill your story in those panels! Most panels usually have, panel description, character name and dialogues (in this sequence). You have to move panel-by-panel, with each sequence, very patiently. Getting used to writing in this format might take some time. But once it is done, hallelujah! you are ready to go!
The amount of input you want to give to your illustrator in the panel description is entirely at your discretion. There can be sections where you are very specific and expect the visual to come out as you have envisioned, and others where you would want to give the illustrator the liberty to just take over with his artistic sensibilities!
The process will be a lot simpler if you are illustrating as well writing the novel! But in most cases this is not so. If you are self-publishing, then the amount of panel description and inputs to be given depends on the kind of illustrator you are hiring! If you are hiring him/her to just draw it for you, then more efforts would be demanded from the writer’s end which will not be the case with an experienced graphic illustrator (you obviously have to pay more in the latter case!) And if you are pitching your graphic novel story to a publisher, then you have to trust your sensibilities and just go ahead with the process, giving enough description to tell your about-to-be illustrator, what you expect from him/her!
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Consider these tips on ‘ how to write a graphic novel ‘
Get to your artist and letterer once you have finished writing your graphic novel !
Step 7 of answering how to write a graphic novel!
Once you have finished the exhausting task of completing your script, you have to pitch it to a publisher (if you go by the tradition method) or get to making the character sketches (if you are writing as well as illustrating them) or find an artist who can sketch your graphic novel (in case you are planning to self-publish the novel).
A large chunk of the job is done, you could now brace yourself for good things to come!
You have to provide descriptions of your characters to the artist based on which he would draw and submit character sketches for your feedback and review! A similar procedure is followed for all the sequences in your script! The artist usually submits a rough first draft for your feedback before s/he is certain of it and can start polishing the same!
Sometimes dialogues are added to the visuals in the illustrator’s draft, sometimes they are not. Usually, the process of lettering ( adding text to your visuals) is done by an expert after the illustrator is done with his part. Once lettering and the illustrations are complete it is sent back to the writer for the final review!
The writer must go through it twice and make sure that the dialogues aren’t too wordy, there is no redundancy in the text and the images, there are no problems with the illustrations, the sequences in the story flow well and the story is remaining true to the direction it is taking as we reach the end!
Color and print the book!
Step 8 of answering how to write a graphic novel!
After ascertaining that the novel looks very much like what was expected at the start of the idea, it is sent for coloring! There are experienced professionals who do this using the Adobe Illustrator!
Coloring can be done before lettering and vice versa!
And then once the book is printed, you can probably grin from ear to ear, clutch your book to your bosoms and dance with happy tears:)
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