Updated: Aug 16, 2020
"Are you writing a novel?" a colleague asked me today when I mentioned that I'm working on a book. When I told them that I'm writing a graphic novel, their next question was, "Do you write in script form?"
As a new author, I have been completely stumbling through writing this YA fantasy graphic novel, but loving the journey of learning how to write, illustrate, and publish! I hope to share snapshots into this process, but would like to start with sharing a very recent breakthrough I've had!
Around six months after deciding to write a graphic novel, I wrote a script of the first chapter. This looked a lot like what you would see in a screenplay, where there is a brief description of the scene and the dialogue. The following year I wrote a second draft of the chapter. I did a lot of research, practiced drawing, and delved into character and world building in between. This was necessary in order to be able to write the story and have the plot move smoothly and purposefully.
A month or two ago, I stumbled upon an article describing The Snowflake Method to writing on the following website: https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/
The basics of the Snowflake Method, is that you start with an idea and you build on it. Write out a summary of the book you're writing in one sentence, then one paragraph, a page, and so forth. Then you focus on each scene, doing the same thing. One suggestion from the method that I tried straight away, was writing a summary of the book from two different characters' perspectives. This helped me both deepen the characters and thicken the plot as I considered how events shaped different individuals' actions.
I became intrigued by the Snowflake Method as a whole, because this is how I felt like my story was coming together - piece by piece, with intentional thought, research, and inspiration, until the characters and plot begin to take on a life of their own. I read the article and knew I was ready to take a new step that I hadn't considered before - I needed to write what was happening scene by scene, in narrative format instead of as a script so that I could fully see the scenes, dialogue, and character's reactions and development in a sequential order.
I completed this enhanced version of the first chapter earlier this week and have been stoked to show it to my first beta readers! As a teacher, and aspiring author of a YA fantasy graphic novel, I have my prime audience at my finger tips: high school students and teachers of high school students. My first two copies were given out today, and a few more are going out Sunday at a Book Club I'm in! (Yes, I'm an absolute nerd!)
UPDATE AUGUST 16, 2020
I have now written the entire three book series in narrative form and am converting it to script. Each narrative book is only about 20-30 pages long because comic books are much shorter, and when it comes to each book of the finished graphic novel series, they will be between 90-100 pages (each chapter having 20-30 pages). Using this exercise as my first draft has helped me just get the story out without worrying about formatting. Heck, I even constantly switched between past and present tense and wrote in dozens of asterisks and question marks throughout.
As I continue through the editing process, I find I this whole method has worked advantageously for me. With a comic book, each page has to be thought out with intent. Sometimes you want a scene to be large enough to cover a double spread, then you have to pace the narration properly on the page before. If you are changing a scene, or building up anticipation for something at the flip of a page, then you need to pace your story to coincide with the flip. If time is passing slowly, your panels need to be drawn longer horizontally or larger with detail, whereas quick passing time is in smaller shots (as a rule of thumb). All of these details must be thought out when writing a script, so having the scene summaries in front of me help to picture the pacing in accordance with other scenes that lay before or after it.