Friday, April 5, 2013

Plotting Your Graphic Novel: Creating a Series of Events

After following these previous posts:
Home-made Manga: It All Starts With an Idea
Creating Home-made Manga: Giving Your Story Direction
Creating Characters Part One
Creating Characters Part Two
You should have the following things:
  • A theme for your story
  • A goal for your story
  • A colorful cast of characters that relate with one another
You should also have created the artistic design of your characters and story settings as well. I didn’t cover that in my posts because there is so much information on designing the look of your graphic novel. If you haven’t done that yet, take advantage of the many Internet resources out there on designing characters and settings, and then come back to this.
Now it’s time to start the real work of creating your graphic novel. Exciting!
The easiest way to get started with writing your novel is to create a “Series of Events” list. This is a list of events that you imagine will happen in your story. It doesn’t have to be in any special order. It’s just a list of situations you would like to see happen in your novel, and they are also situations that fit with the relationships and interests of your characters.
Here is a little peak of what my list was like when I was writing Mascara:
-Makeover sister
-In mall fashion show
-Makeover competition
-Wedding job
-Girl starts working at mall in organic store
-Face off with the student counsel president of another school
-Boy’s dream is to attend prestigious beauty school
-Another student who feels he should be class president
-A jealous makeup artist
I tried to think of as many things that could happen in the life of a makeup artist as I could. Add as many items to your list as you can think of and don’t worry about making complete sentences. When you’re done, read through your list again with a critical eye and do the following:
Cross out the ideas you won’t use with a single line. Cross it out with a single line because you may actually decide to use that idea anyways later, and it would be good if it’s still readable.
Draw stars next to events that will have the biggest impact on the story. I put stars next to Another student who feels he should be class president and Boy’s dream to attend a prestigious beauty school, and those ideas played a very large role in my story.
Then the other events can be used to lead up to your starred events. Or if your starred items are more like themes than actual plot, the unstarred events can help support those themes along with your main theme.
After picking what events you want to use, rewrite them in the most logical order you can, even creating extra events in-between to help with the flow of things if you need to.
For example, I decided to let the Wedding job (in which Ian has a makeup job at a wedding) come first and then Girl (Addison) starts working at mall in organic store come next. The problem is, how do you go from a wedding to working at an organics store? I decided that at the wedding, Ian finds out that Addison’s parents are out of work, so she needs to find a job to help her family, and she ends up working at an organic’s store. Come up with reasons why one event follows another. It takes a little bit of thinking, but it’s totally worth it.
If you have an event that doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, it may be best to leave it out, or save it for another story.
After getting your events in order, you will have created a very simple plotline for your graphic novel. Congratulations!
My next post on this topic will be about getting this list to be more graphic novel ready.