Thursday, January 6, 2011

Short stories and graphic novels

Last year I wrote two short stories. Well, they were sort-of short stories. To be honest, I don't consider myself a natural short story writer and I don't even much like to read other people's short stories (Chekhov excepted.) The process of writing for me is getting to know a character in the long term, building them up, leading them into encounters with other characters, and you can't really do this in a short-story format. And these particular stories were surface pieces, once-upon-a-time story telling.

And then it occurred to me, as I tweaked various words and phrases for the hundredth time, that both these stories would work well as graphic novels. They were both visual and I could see how the pictures would tell the story more successfully than words.

My first question was, how do you write a graphic novel? I didn't intend to do the art, but I wanted to block out the size of pictures, relation to the text, and so on. So I went on one of the forums at Critique Circle as asked if there was a kind of software that graphic novelists used, something that would help with that. To my surprise, the replies I got were the graphic novels are usually written in a screenplay format, something like:


Mickey Mouse is seen with his hands up as Donald Duck points a water pistol at him. Minnie can be seen running away in the background, her flowered hat coming off.

Donald: Prepare to get wet, Mickey!

Mickey: But -- but --

Apparent the more description of the scene, pov, etc., the better. So for the past few days I've been tentatively re-writing these short stories in this format and having some fun with them. It's been a nice stretch for my brain. And I like to dream about what the finished art might look like. I've just finished reading Steve Westerfeld's steampunk novel Leviathan, and I just love the fact that it's YA and illustrated. Love the art, also, which reminds me one of my favorite books from childhood, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken.

Anyone out there up to any new projects for the new year?

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