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Who's working on a Graphic Novel project?

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I'm 5000 words into my first draft for what I hope will be a MG GN. If nothing else it will be a learning experience and an exercise in endurance right?  Hoping to connect with a few others & share experiences.  I'm balancing this project with a couple of PB WIPs and Life. 
#1 - May 04, 2017, 10:00 AM
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 11:59 PM by marla-lesage »

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I've had a graphic novel in my head for several years now.  I've got a book full of sketches and plotlines and character notes, and a first draft drawn up of the prologue, but I haven't written up a script yet, partially because I'm not sure how to tackle it.  The prologue is wordless and was done fully in artwork, but for the rest of the graphic novel I feel like I need to write it up. 

Did you write first draft in prose, or is it set up like a script? 
#2 - May 04, 2017, 03:45 PM

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Great thread! I have several NF ideas ready (not all are fully flushed out). I would like to know if you illustrate by hand or computer. What other tools do you all use?
#3 - May 04, 2017, 03:52 PM

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Sophie I was really struggling with the how to write the script too. Mine is a mix of prose and screenplay style script. But it's the first draft so I figure it only has to exist & once I get the story flushed out I can put it into a better format. I started with a rough outline/pitch & am working on individual scenes/details, exploring, getting to know the characters. I've been book-mapping as I go which I find helpful in staying on focus (from Cheryl Klein's book). 

I haven't really sketched anything out yet. I think i'm taking the approach I use with picture books - will get a decent story & then move to sketches to revise & polish. I prefer to work traditionally so once I move to thumbnailing it will be pencil/ink on  Paper. I'd like to start some character sketches though. That might help. I did try a thumbnail of one scene... But I think I need to get the big picture under my belt than use the thumbnails to refine the individual scenes.
#4 - May 05, 2017, 05:54 AM

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Thought I'd update my progress - I just finished my 2nd draft! 
I switched over from Word to Scrivener after continuously misplacing my index card bookmap & Wow!
Scrivener has a comic scripting template built-in that I found really helped me with the writing process.

I'd love to hear how your projects are going - whether a first project or not!
#5 - June 15, 2017, 11:58 PM

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Congratulations on your second draft Marla.   I use Scrivener for writing as well and love the ability to split up chapters and scenes into separate "documents", especially when I know a scene needs to be written but I haven't quite gotten there chronologically.

Unfortunately, my graphic novel is on the backburner while I work on other projects, but I have been doing a lot of general sketching exercises and life drawing. 
#6 - June 17, 2017, 01:21 PM

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Cool to hear that others are working on GN projects! 
I have three graphic novel projects in various modes of development (as well as other story projects):
 -- MG adventure (speculative), closest to query-ready agent submission and is the one I'm most focused on at the moment
 -- YA urban fantasy-ish, which has turned itself into more of an illustrated novel I think, with graphic novel elements; still in draft
 -- MG/YA fantasy, still in early draft mode

I also use Scrivener for GN and comic script development, but always start my story outlines in Word.
#7 - June 19, 2017, 09:48 AM

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 :hijacked Just for a moment to say hi to Tanja!! It's so great to see you on the boards!!!  It's been a while.  :love5

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled thread.  :grin3
#8 - June 19, 2017, 09:58 AM
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What does your process look like?
#9 - June 20, 2017, 12:50 AM

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:hijacked Just for a moment to say hi to Tanja!! It's so great to see you on the boards!!!  It's been a while.  :love5

Hi Sharon -- thanks! :) I'm keeping busy...looks like you are, too -- congrats!

What does your process look like?

Hi Marla -- In the beginning stages, I tend to go back and forth from outline (Word) to script (Scrivener), with little or no art developed. However, I'll give myself detailed scene or art notes in the script because my writing is very visually inspired. Almost storyboard or watching a movie. :) The dialogue is generally developed after that first pass of the script draft, unless those pesky characters have already started shouting at me to be heard.   If that's the case, I'm also working on key character designs and have already pulled image inspiration or shot photos of my own for a "mood folder" while I'm writing the story.

After the first Scrivener draft is complete, I go to rough thumbnails, and update the script. I focus on how I want the pages to turn and reveal action, character interaction or dialogue, and pacing.  Consider what might work better as a two-page spread for impact or a chance to breathe, maybe chopped up and/or placed elsewhere, or removed entirely.  At this stage, I'm only sketching on letter-size copy paper per "page", usually with a ballpoint pen so no erasing! Nothing fancy.  :)  I'll be referencing and/or updating my Scrivener-compiled draft with edit notes for art and story as well.   Once I'm satisfied with the page layouts, and do another pass with the text added to make sure art and text leave enough space for each other and the panels flow well.

I've attached a sample of a current project (self-publishing for conventions), of the 2nd thumbnail stage, with updated roughs that focus on positioning of text (captions, dialogue and some SFX).  As you can see, the art is very rough and not "precious" -- I'm concerned only with layout and design, not detail.

After that is all worked out, I develop the much more detailed pencils on 11x17 bristol paper per page, unless it's a two-page spread and then I'll use the 19x24 size. Minimal if any changes needed at this point, or that's the plan. I'll print out the aforementioned thumbnail pen sketches, scaled up to fit each 11 x 17 page and transferred via my artograph lightpad(s) to bristol paper.  I'd rather do the detailed pencil art traditionally rather than digitally at this stage mostly because I enjoy drawing and working with graphite, but also because then I'm able to offer original art for sale later.  Inking I'll do digitally, as well as color, although I might do any cover art or additional poster prints traditionally painted (watercolors and acrylic). 

Once I have final color art completed in Photoshop, I'll do the text digitally as well, usually in Illustrator.  I've recently started to incorporate Clip Studio Paint for the "inking" and balloon stage. Maybe it will help me to work faster...maybe not.

I know that my current process is definitely not the fastest... 
But I love doing the work, and am most satisfied with the end result...and I hope that shows in both art and story to my readers.

- t
#10 - August 06, 2017, 02:02 PM

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Tanya - it's rough but really taking shape!  I've done 3 drafts (one in word, two in scrivener). Now I'm going through my printed draft sketching out ideas for panels but not committing to panel shape/size as of yet. Thanks for the detailed post!
#11 - August 06, 2017, 05:37 PM

Ish, one of the first book genres I read were graphic novels. Or more specifically manga. But it's almost impossible to find an artist, and I'm more of a mind to pursue learning to do sequential art myself.

Plus, I've heard stuff like Shounen Jump only tends to accept national authors, rather than international.

Which has somewhat soured my opinion about comics, and manga specifically.

I mean I can't read comics these days without thinking "why hasn't this excellent writer been accepted in shounen jump or young jump?"
#12 - September 12, 2017, 06:06 AM
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 06:09 AM by SarahW »

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This is a fascinating thread! I've written the text manuscript for two graphic "nonfiction" kids books (one published, one soon-to-be published) and, with the second one, was required to create art suggestions as I went along, panel by panel. It was a wonderful learning experience. I'm learning a lot reading along through your comments as well. Keep 'em comin'!
#13 - September 18, 2017, 08:42 AM
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Time To - board book series, '17
Up! -pb, '17
Making Canada Home -nf, '16

I've found it nearly impossible to find an article for my graphic novel scripts. And certain web comic communities are rude, rude, rude. Plus I have a limited budget, which puts constraints on when I can make art requests.

Limited as in, I'm currently unemployed.
#14 - October 03, 2017, 03:20 PM

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I've found it nearly impossible to find an article for my graphic novel scripts.

Sarah, you could always take up illustration... There's quite a range in artistic ability when it comes to graphic novels. I've really enjoyed a couple that had very basic B&W linework.  Have you looked locally?

#15 - October 03, 2017, 06:57 PM

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Hi all,

I'm so glad someone posted on this thread so it came to my attention! I've written several picture books, but am currently working on a graphic novel script. I'm an author, not an illustrator, but I've found that storyboarding has been the best way for me to start the project. I just can't write the words without imagining what the scenes might look like.

Through the process I've learned I would like to improve my visual thinking. What types of classes might you recommend for someone working on a graphic novel? Are there courses you can think of (online)? I'm also in the LA area, so I will check into the Writers Extension program at UCLA. Or is it best to just start with a basic drawing course to understand line, perspective, etc.?

Thanks!

Kirsten
#16 - October 04, 2017, 05:52 AM
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Through the process I've learned I would like to improve my visual thinking. What types of classes might you recommend for someone working on a graphic novel? Are there courses you can think of (online)?

Kadenze has a fantastic free online course from the California College of the Arts that I think you might like. It's not a drawing course but is perfect for understanding how comics work & the types of panel to panel transitions.  https://www.kadenze.com/courses/comics-art-in-relationship/info

SVSlearn has a couple of good ones but they are geared towards illustrators so while I think Jake Parker's class would be helpful, I'm not sure it would be worthwhile to pay for. However if you're interested in drawing/illustrating I highly recommend SVSlearn - they have drawing/illustrating/painting classes for all levels & with the monthly subscription the prices are very reasonable.

Being in the city, you might have a number of in person options as well.
#17 - October 04, 2017, 06:19 AM

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Oh my gosh, Marla, thank you for this! I am enrolling right now in the free course, and I'll check out SVSlearn.

Love the BlueBoards!

Kirsten
#18 - October 04, 2017, 07:59 AM
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Thanks for the links to the Courses with Kadenze
#19 - October 04, 2017, 11:29 AM

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I'd think art galleries and art museums might have talks or program that help you look at art differently. We did one that was for the kids at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. It contained a craft and a great look at perspective using pieces in the museum.
#20 - October 04, 2017, 08:53 PM

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Feeling lost but thinking to do a Graphic Novel, among other things I'm working on YA novels 60thousand word, MG, PB and I have this story that I made rough sketches for (potential graphic novel) but have no experience with scrivener, what if I just did it all by hand? I have no comic book or graphic novel experience, do you suppose it's worth my time to just throw something together to see if I can do a rough then move it to a format?  How do publishers like to see these documents?
Not sure I made any sense there but let me know if you have any suggestions.  Thanks
Like this thread. .
#21 - October 16, 2017, 05:44 PM

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Hi Karen,

You sound overwhelmed by your possibilities. Might I suggest you focus on one or two projects that you'll see to completion (that means rough, critique, revision, more critiques, etc, until final). When you need down time on these, read graphic novels and anything else you'd like and study the industry. Pick what you're most passionate about. When you run out of steam on one, go to the other. Otherwise you may find yourself with a hundred works in varying stages but none ever submission ready. (This does not mean you can't make notes or even roughout pieces of another project. It's just about gaining focus and discipline so that you finish what you start.)

I believe graphic novels are submitted as rough story boards with all text but only one or two illustrations in a finished state. (Like picture book dummies.) But I could be off on this.
#22 - October 16, 2017, 08:31 PM

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Quote
Hi Karen,

You sound overwhelmed by your possibilities. Might I suggest you focus on one or two projects that you'll see to completion (that means rough, critique, revision, more critiques, etc, until final). When you need down time on these, read graphic novels and anything else you'd like and study the industry. Pick what you're most passionate about. When you run out of steam on one, go to the other. Otherwise you may find yourself with a hundred works in varying stages but none ever submission ready. (This does not mean you can't make notes or even roughout pieces of another project. It's just about gaining focus and discipline so that you finish what you start.)

I believe graphic novels are submitted as rough story boards with all text but only one or two illustrations in a finished state. (Like picture book dummies.) But I could be off on this.
I am definitely overwhelmed for sure, and find it hard to focus but doing my best, 2 PB manuscripts are being critiqued now, and first chapter of a YA, but this graphic novel , was really something I wrote for a film, a short film, and I think it's a great little story, which if I cleaned up the rough story board, it was not a professional story board at all I was only the writer on this project, but did standard page rough illustrations to show the flow of the story, but all that work and the group didn't work out.  So I thought I could adapt it for a Graphic Novel.  But as you say I have soo many things going on I am trying to see one thing through to potential publication, and that is challenging for me when my mind goes in a million directions. . . Thanks for your input.  Today I was checking out all the  millions of links on Queries from this site and others --including one with successful queries, so that I can refine my skill in this area.  Not likely to do the graphic novel thing at this moment but as a back burner thing to resurrect a sweet little story about a girl who wanted to know what the moon was made of and convinced friends and family to assist her in finding out. 
#23 - October 17, 2017, 12:19 AM
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 06:12 AM by dinalapomy101 »

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I have a software question. For those of you using Scrivener for your GN scripts, are you using the comic book template or just doing your own thing? I've tried a couple of times to figure out how to use that template and have found it incredibly confusing. A writer friend recommended Final Draft, which is for screenplays but also has a graphic novel template. It's fairly easy to use, but the 30-day free trial runs out soon and the program is expensive. I already own Scrivener, so that would be my preference, if I can just figure it out! (I use Scrivener for all of my fiction and nonfiction book drafts, so I'm familiar with the basics.)
#24 - October 17, 2017, 07:02 AM
2017:
Sibling Split series (Stone Arch)
Gender Wage Gap (Abdo)
Smooth Road Trip (Capstone)
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I literally just started using Scrivener's Comic Book template yesterday. It took me a little bit of trial and error to figure it out, but now I'm finding it very helpful.

Look just below the box where you would type your text. On the bottom right, you can select between things like panel number, panel description, dialog, etc. If you look just to the left, it tells you what the shortcuts are. Right now, for example, I have "panel description" selected. If I look at the short cuts, it tells me that hitting "tab" will change it to character, which allows me to type a character name in all caps.

Not sure that helps...
#25 - October 17, 2017, 04:24 PM
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Wow Kay that sounds like its user friendly or your a quick study!
mghiggins  just to confuse you and everyone else here, I have a free subscription to Celtix which does about the same as Final Draft and I'm guessing  Scrivner.  . . Celtex is for stage screen, and comic's I believe, and if you get the free trial, you can continue to click no thanks, if you scroll to the bottom once the trial period is over. . A man who does radio theatre told me about it.  He uses it to adapt novels in the public domain.  So there's another one to consider CELTIX
#26 - October 17, 2017, 05:15 PM

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Thank you so much, Kirsten! That was really helpful. I played around with the template this morning using your hints, and now it makes sense.  I have a quandary, though, because even though there's no standard GN script format, I've read that art directors prefer everything flush left for copying and pasting, which is the way Final Draft is set up. Hmm.

Thank you, too, Karen. I just looked at Celtix and didn't see any information about comics or graphic novels, so I'm wondering if you just use it as you would for a stage or screenplay? Or it could be I just didn't look closely enough!
#27 - October 18, 2017, 07:01 AM
2017:
Sibling Split series (Stone Arch)
Gender Wage Gap (Abdo)
Smooth Road Trip (Capstone)
www.mghiggins.com

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I've made several final sample pages but am undecided how I should approach lettering them. The artwork was done traditionally at about 10% bigger than they would be printed on the page. Is it ok to handletter right on the page or should I print them out at size & do the lettering on tracing paper & add to the pages digitally?  I want to stick with traditional as much as possible, I'm just not sure how to approach the lettering!
#28 - October 18, 2017, 07:56 AM

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Wow, Marla, good question--I hope another artist has an answer for you!

Regarding Scrivener, I just discovered formatting for each script element (character, dialog, etc.) can easily be changed under Format/Scriptwriting/Script Settings. I guess that solves my flush-left dilemma. I love Scrivener!
#29 - October 18, 2017, 08:34 AM
2017:
Sibling Split series (Stone Arch)
Gender Wage Gap (Abdo)
Smooth Road Trip (Capstone)
www.mghiggins.com

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Thank you, too, Karen. I just looked at Celtix and didn't see any information about comics or graphic novels, so I'm wondering if you just use it as you would for a stage or screenplay? Or it could be I just didn't look closely enough!
Marla,
In Celtex, you open up a new project, and click on comic book project. 
#30 - October 19, 2017, 08:21 PM

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