Friday, March 15, 2013

How to Be Organized While Planning a Graphic Novel

If you're working on a graphic novel and have been following these posts:

Creating Characters Part 1
Creating Characters Part 2

--You will have a growing stack of papers.

While creating a graphic novel, you'll end up collecting all kinds of things. There are plot ideas, character sketches, character wardrobe ideas, possible settings, and if you like to collect reference photos like me, that list will also include magazine clippings and furniture catalogs.

So here's a little photo-commentary of some things you can do to keep your diverse collection of ideas in one spot.

When I worked on my first graphic novel, stuff was scattered everywhere! I had sketches in one notebook, the script in another, and draft pages in another and character ideas in another. I could have done things way more efficiently.

This is the Smashbook by K&Company. Honestly, I don't use it for organizing every aspect of my novel, but the concept is perfect for getting sketches, ideas, scripts, sketches, magazine clippings, and photo references all in one place, especially if all of that stuff is for one story. Here is how it works:

Section tabs can be placed on any page with the special glue stick/pen, so the notebook can be organized in whatever way is best for you.  Example section labels: Characters, Plot line, Script, Ideas, Reference, etc...

Another neat thing about the Smashbook is that it can double as sort of a folder. Here's a page where I stuck some unfinished comic stuff that I started, but couldn't finish.

Also, these cool pockets can be purchased separately and are really handy for collecting ideas you might write on sticky notes, restaurant napkins, and whatever else you may write your ideas on. The pockets are big enough to hold sketches drawn on paper that's half the size of the standard 8" x 11," and can be placed anywhere you want. Of course, the same concept as the Smashbook can be done with a sketchbook that has heavy paper, but I like how aesthetically pleasing this notebook is, and it's not expensive.
This next part is for those who like to use their computer to keep their stuff organized. With the latest comics I'm planning, this is how I'm keeping up with all of my random ideas and plot-lines. Remember to make a backup of your stuff!

I love Microsoft OneNote. It is the best application for organizing a wide variety of ideas. Evernote is okay, but OneNote has more options and is more flexible. Typically, I use Evernote to jot down ideas on the go, and then copy the notes from the Evernote desktop application and paste them into OneNote.

My favorite feature of OneNote is that it's possible to mix different things on the same page. Text, pictures, hand-written notation, and voice notes can be mixed all together on one canvas.You can even add side notes to your notes.

I also like the way that things are organized. The top tabs are notebook sections and the side tabs are pages. Multiple notebooks can be created, so you can create a separate notebook for each story. In this picture you are seeing a scanned page of "The What-If Game" from Ready, Set, Novel!

Ready, Set, Novel! is an amazing book, and although it's designed for writers, graphic novelists can still learn from  it. I'll be mentioning it more in the future.

OneNote is also great for collecting and organizing all of those reference photos and website links that have an impact on your novel. It makes it super easy to create a collage of images from the Internet and to add hyperlinks to informative websites. This program is not picky about the way you decide to put things together. You can put pretty much whatever you want on a page in any style or order you want.

Also notes can be exported. I'm using OneNote 2007, so notes can be exported as a PDF or emailed. There are probably more options in the more recent versions of the program.

If you create shorter stories, this type of organization scheme will probably be better. I created a notebook called "One Shots," and it is specifically for one chapter to one volume stories. The name of the section is the title of the story, which is "Summer Break." And then the pages of the section go over plot, characters,etc... Subpages can also be added.

That's it! If you have any other ways of keeping organized while planning your graphic novel, feel free to comment, and if you've found this helpful, make sure to follow me!

Soon I'll be writing a post about creating a plot outline, so look out for it.