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Graphic novel? Am I nuts to try?

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Dionna

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I am seriously thinking about presenting my latest NF project as a graphic novel. I've already done a draft of a PB that focuses on one slice of the story. But the whole story would really do well, I think, as a MG graphic novel. I see it so clearly. But is it a good idea or not.....Blueboarders know Everything.... so I am here, once agian, seeking your opinion.....please...what do you honestly think:

1. Am I nuts to try since I'm not an illustrator?
2. What questions should I ask myself that will help me determine if my decision is correct?
3. In NF graphic novels, do all the word bubbles (correct term, please) have to be actual quotations supported by primary sources?

Thanks in advance for your help!

 
#1 - June 22, 2016, 07:58 PM

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There are plenty of writer/illustrator teams for graphic novels, it could definitely be worth a try if that's the best format for your book. The important thing is to learn how to write a graphic novel script. Scott McCloud's books (Understanding Comics and Making Comics) are fabulous!
#2 - June 22, 2016, 08:08 PM
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Dionna

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Thanks, Arty! I never thought of a graphic novel as a comic book. Are they one and the same?
#3 - June 22, 2016, 08:27 PM

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Essentially. They are both stories made up of panels of sequential art. Those books cover all the forms.
#4 - June 22, 2016, 08:50 PM
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Dionna -- I say go with your vision and learn the format! You can do it!

I don't know the answers to your questions, but I'd suggest getting your hands on some of the titles on this list of NF graphic novels, seeing how they handled them, and using them as models for the kind of topic you are going for: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/2016-great-graphic-novels-teens

Good luck!
#5 - June 23, 2016, 01:14 PM
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May as well give it a whirl!  :lovedance Good luck!
#6 - June 23, 2016, 04:44 PM
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
What Goes Up (Bloomsbury, 2017)
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I am seriously thinking about presenting my latest NF project as a graphic novel. I've already done a draft of a PB that focuses on one slice of the story. But the whole story would really do well, I think, as a MG graphic novel. I see it so clearly. But is it a good idea or not.....Blueboarders know Everything.... so I am here, once agian, seeking your opinion.....please...what do you honestly think:

1. Am I nuts to try since I'm not an illustrator?
2. What questions should I ask myself that will help me determine if my decision is correct?
3. In NF graphic novels, do all the word bubbles (correct term, please) have to be actual quotations supported by primary sources?

Around the late-80's, when Batman first turned R-rated and Watchmen was just getting attention, the running nerd-bashing joke was "It's not a 'comic book', it's a graphic novel!
The joke being, graphic novels basically are comic books, but aren't there to be a continuing serial, just tell a complete story, and aren't necessarily relying on the standard comic tropes of a story about superheroes, for example.

I'm not sure how a writer could sell one of those without either being an illustrator or already having one attached, since it's a visual story to begin with.  Anyone who just thinks the idea sounds good might come off as just cashing in on the buzzword, and it's a little TOO popular of a buzzword at the moment with industry people who don't read either one.
If it's a NF book like a historical or biography, or "Simple explanation" of a science concept, that's a much better sell, but would need a good outline to show how it fits the comic...er, graphic format.
#7 - June 23, 2016, 06:50 PM
« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 06:54 PM by EricJ »
Know the movies.  Show the movies.  Start the revolution:
http://movieactivist.blogspot.com

Dionna

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Thanks, all, for the encouragement! I've got those books coming from my library, Arty, and will check out those links in the morn, Dews.

Question for you Eric. Do you outline your story by scenes per so many panels, with a story arc like any regular plotline?
#8 - June 23, 2016, 08:28 PM

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Question for you Eric. Do you outline your story by scenes per so many panels, with a story arc like any regular plotline?

I've never done one.  I just know that editors/agents usually ask a non-fiction book to have an outline to show how the information will be broken down in the book.
And if you're selling it as a GN for someone else's art, it would have to show how the visuals would use that.  (Without actually explaining the panels, which would be the "Describing the illustrations" that editors hate.)
#9 - June 23, 2016, 08:35 PM
Know the movies.  Show the movies.  Start the revolution:
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(Without actually explaining the panels, which would be the "Describing the illustrations" that editors hate.)


Except when doing a graphic novel script. Some comics writers are more descriptive than others, but it's very similar to writing a movie script or a play script. You describe the action, you describe the "camera" shots.

For example, a typical GN page might look something like:

PAGE ONE

Panel 1:

Wide panel, establishing shot. School, kids walking to bus.

Panel 2:

small panel, close up. Boy hangs head, unhappy.

Panel 3:

medium panel, medium shot. Kids run past boy, laughing

etc, etc. That is obviously just all made up for the sake of showing what a script basically consists of. You'd include narration, and speech bubbles and as much description as necessary to get the story across.

But Dionna, if you got those books from the library, this will all soon become clear! I'm by no means an expert, but I love the art form and have been trying to learn it and read as many GNs as I can.
#10 - June 23, 2016, 08:46 PM
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Dionna

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I love them, too, Arty! And know, from my limited experience subbing at the school library, that kids love them as well. And I really think the subject matter I've researched about lends itself really well for this format. I can't wait to get my hands on those books and try it out!!!! (But, to be honest, I feel a little nuts for trying!)
#11 - June 24, 2016, 03:50 AM

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We're all nuts in this biz, anyway! Try away!  :grin3
 
#12 - June 24, 2016, 08:52 AM
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3. In NF graphic novels, do all the word bubbles (correct term, please) have to be actual quotations supported by primary sources?


Hi Dionna,

I wrote a graphic nonfiction books called No Girls Allowed -- http://www.kidscanpress.com/products/no-girls-allowed -- and, interestingly, I originally pitched as a straightforward narrative book but it was the editor's idea for us to try it as a graphic nf book. They hired a terrific illustrator to go the drawings and I revised the text to suit the new formatting. It went through lots of drafts, of course, but it was very collaborative and I learned a lot. It went on to be nominated for several awards. The process was really fun; I certainly learned a lot about writing dialogue!

I think it's a fun idea for you to pitch yours as a graphic NF book and I'd recommend creating an outline and preparing five pages of so of manuscript. I'd also suggest you write a few sentences justifying why you think this is a good way to present your material. You might also consider offering the alternative of writing it as straight narrative, so agents/editors know that if they love the concept of your idea, the graphic nf bk aspect isn't a deal-breaker for you (unless, of course, it is!).

Oh, and I wanted to add that I didn't worry about the direct speeches being quotes. You can explain in an author's note that you've used sources to convey the facts but that you've also used your imagination to create scenes and dialogue.

Good luck with this adventure!

Best, Susan

#13 - June 24, 2016, 01:52 PM
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Dionna

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Thank you, thank you, Susan, for your enthusiastic reply, and for sharing your experience! I am really excited about this. Now I'm off to check out your title!  :flowers2
#14 - June 24, 2016, 04:48 PM

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Susan, that is one BEAUTIFUL Book and Willow does some really "graphic" comics too (more on the adult side:)

Dionna, you should also check out Matt Phelan's semi non-fiction GN's. He has 4 released now with Candlewick. His first was "storm in the barn". http://www.mattphelan.com/graphic-novels.html
At his GN workshop a few years ago he showed us how his manuscript for a GN was formatted more like a Movie script. So you would see the characters name: and the then what the character is saying. Discriptions of general mood, scenery etc. Might look something like, "Jack is seen walking slowly toward the barn, head down, dangerous thunder clouds are moving in over the drought ridden prairie just beyond." Not every page or panel has text, often the flow of the story is being told just in the illo's so there IS need to describe what is going on in each scene.


Oh and while I realize Matt IS the Illustrator as well as the Author and I think that does make the sale of GN's to publishers a bit easier, this was more a post to show how you could format and submit if you don't Illustrate. On the other hand, if you have some leaning toward illustration, GN art is more forgiving then say Pic Book art. It can be loose and sketchy and not always absolutely perfect (if you were ever inclined to give sketching a go:)
#15 - June 25, 2016, 06:14 AM
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 06:19 AM by christripp »
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Dionna

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Thanks, Christie! Matt's website is beautiful. Will check his graphic novels out ASAP. The covers alone can take your breath away.

All of my kids are artists, super talented, but I only can see the art in my head....so I won't even attempt sketches, but describing what I see on the panel...that I can do, esp. since every frame will be based on historical fact....Just talking about it makes me soooooo  excited!!!!!!!!
#16 - June 25, 2016, 04:42 PM

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Oh, good luck, Dionna! A NF graphic novel sounds like a wonderful idea! GNs are produced with different writers/illustrators often, so it is possible to do if you're not an artist. I took a class on making comics and GNs, and I really liked this book for how to make comics:

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden

http://us.macmillan.com/books/9781596431317

I took a class from Jessica and Matt on creating comics, but even w/o the class or meeting them, I would have found their book easier to read and learn from than Scott McCloud's books. Of course this is all subjective. You might like Scott's books better (his books are good too - just hard for me to read because all the text is in ALL CAPS FOR THE WHOLE BOOK). Actually would be good to read and learn from both if you can. They're good resources and have different perspectives and examples.

You may also want to check out Matt Madden's book 99 Ways to Tell a Story, which shows 99 ways to tell the same story in a graphic novel format. Really interesting to see visually how that's done.

p.s. They also did a second book that continues where Drawing Words and Writing Pictures left off. I haven't read this one, but did read pages before it was published and liked what I read. The title is:

Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden

Good luck! Hope you're able to do this project. Some kids learn better visually, so NF GNs sound like a wonderful idea.
#17 - June 26, 2016, 07:07 AM
« Last Edit: June 26, 2016, 07:11 AM by Stephanie Ruble »
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Dionna

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Thanks so much, Stephanie! Honestly, before I started researching the idea, I never noticed that there were authors of GNs who were not illustrators. Even if my library doesn't have these titles, I'm getting them! So appreciate your suggestion. (And I am a total visual learner. transfer almost everything I learn into word pictures!)

Have you written/drawn any GNs since your class?
#18 - June 26, 2016, 02:34 PM

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I wrote and illustrated a mini comic for the class. Since then I've had graphic novel ideas, but am doing picture books, so no ... however, I have managed to sneak panels into all my WIP pb dummies and the book that got published too! ;)
#19 - June 27, 2016, 07:16 AM
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picture book: EWE AND AYE (Disney-Hyperion)

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I took a course too, (online) but they based it on the McCloud and Eisner books, lol. I have been wanting to get Jessica Abel's too, I poked around her website a bit.
#20 - June 27, 2016, 07:33 AM
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 Woot! Woot! Stephanie! And my library has one of Matt's Drawing Words bk, so it's headed my way and hope to pick it up soon. (My library system totally rocks!)

Arty, would you recommend the online class for writers only?
#21 - June 27, 2016, 01:17 PM

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Just wanted to toss my two bits in... Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales are wonderful graphic nf.
#22 - June 27, 2016, 01:44 PM
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Arty, would you recommend the online class for writers only?

Yes. I think a writer would get a lot out of it. And it's all in video components, I think only the last two out of 19 would maybe only be helpful to an illustrator. There are also downloadable notes and stuff that go with it. It's this one: https://svslearn.com/classDetail/-JkcWLhcNctitruYd-ps

I've taken a number of classes through SVS. After the first one I did they started offering monthly subscriptions, so I subscribed and have done quite a few.
#23 - June 27, 2016, 02:27 PM
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Thanks, Arty!
#24 - June 27, 2016, 05:45 PM

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Dionna: As a child, I went through years of cherishing comic books, and writing a graphic novel is something I've been thinking about for a while.  I'm so glad you started this thread as I have also been wondering about approaching it as a writer only. 

PS:  In the latest edition of Jane Friedman's "The Hot Sheet," she says that B&N has doubled their space for graphic novels and manga. 

#25 - July 04, 2016, 07:19 AM
« Last Edit: July 04, 2016, 07:41 AM by lee-bernstein »

Dionna

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Dionna: As a child, I went through years of cherishing comic books, and writing a graphic novel is something I've been thinking about for a while.  I'm so glad you started this thread as I have also been wondering about approaching it as a writer only. 

PS:  In the latest edition of Jane Friedman's "The Hot Sheet," she says that B&N has doubled their space for graphic novels and manga.

Wow! That's exciting, Lee! The books Arty suggested are great! A lot of the info is geared toward the artist, and a lot is about fiction, but I'm still  finding a slew of great tips about the category and great advice about plotting in general, my weak point. I'll try to share some gems either here,  or on my blog later. Bottom line: the more I investigate, the more I'm convinced that my project is well-suited for the graphic novel treatement!

Let me know what you decide to do!
#26 - July 04, 2016, 07:47 AM

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There are plenty of writer/illustrator teams for graphic novels, it could definitely be worth a try if that's the best format for your book. The important thing is to learn how to write a graphic novel script. Scott McCloud's books (Understanding Comics and Making Comics) are fabulous!

Which of the two would you suggest reading first for learning how to write a graphic novel script?  Thank you!
#27 - July 04, 2016, 12:39 PM
« Last Edit: July 04, 2016, 03:54 PM by lee-bernstein »

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#28 - July 04, 2016, 03:55 PM

Dionna

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Which of the two would you suggest reading first for learning how to write a graphic novel script?  Thank you!

Not finished with them yet, but will let you know what I think when I'm done.
#29 - July 04, 2016, 06:59 PM

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Not finished with them yet, but will let you know what I think when I'm done.

Any thoughts yet on which book is best for a writer only?

I am pumped to explore writing a graphic novel, but only as a writer. I'm not finding many resources. You?

Someone needs to write a book!
#30 - July 25, 2016, 06:27 PM
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 06:43 PM by lee-bernstein »

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