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My Really Ill-Conceived New Writing Project

March 1, 2010

A long time ago (OK, last year) I was bored after writing my first (and probably last) “serious” novel.  So I decided to write a little superhero novel using a character I’d created in a short story–which in turn was created from two other novels, but that’s not really important right now.  Then that story spawned three sequels, the latest being completed about a week ago.

(You can find more on that here.)

Even before that fourth manuscript was completed I had a great idea–or so it seemed at the time.  I thought, hey, why not turn these superhero manuscripts into superhero graphic novels?  After all, superheroes and graphic novels go together like peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, peas and carrots, or some other food analogy–it’s almost lunch time!  And graphic novels are becoming increasingly popular as statistics quoted in some article I read somewhere stated.  Seemed like a great idea.

Then I quickly realized the drawbacks to this idea:

  1. I hardly ever read comic books–let alone graphic novels–when I was a kid.  For whatever reason I always liked the idea of superheroes, especially on TV like the old Adam West Batman show or Superfriends, but I could almost never be bothered to spend a quarter or two quarters or however much it cost back then to buy a comic book, let alone multiples.  I did buy and read Watchmen back in 2009, about 25 years after it came out, so I got that going for me.
  2. I have no idea what a graphic novel script looks like, let alone what should be in one.  Was it like a movie script (which I’ve never written either) or a storyboard or what?

Short of building a working time machine there’s nothing I can do about Problem #1.  (And if I could build a time machine it wouldn’t be to buy comic books, except maybe the first Superman and Batman ones that just went for a million apiece.)  I did figure out a way to solve Problem #2.  I bought a book of actual comic book scripts off of Amazon.  And I bought this book written by someone I know from a writer’s network about how to write a graphic novel.

So, problem solved, right?  Well, not really.  As it turns out, there’s about as many different ways to write a comic book script as there are comic book writers.  It’s not like a novel where pretty much everyone uses paragraphs and sentences strung together and divided by chapters.  You can do it just about any way you want.

Well, that makes it easier, I suppose.  The problem remains though that I don’t really know what I’m doing.  This is largely because of Problem #1.  I don’t really know anything about how to lay out panels and pages and whatnot.  I have no idea when you should use a “splash page” (one really big graphic that takes up a whole page or two) and when you should use a bunch of smaller panels.  I mean I can barely draw stick figures for crying out loud!

I thought maybe I should just quit now.  Then I thought I might as well keep plowing ahead just to see what I can come up with.  You’ll never learn if you don’t try, right?

So last week I started with Phase 1 of the actual writing of the project.  Phase 1 was to take the manuscript and put it into a sort of outline format with each chapter and the main points of that chapter.  That was pretty easy because I’ve already written the manuscript (twice) so I just had to go back and refresh my memory on what I’d written and maybe change a couple little points.

Now we’re into Phase 2.  Basically Phase 2 is taking that outline and breaking each main point into subpoints.  Those subpoints I figure would be about a page each.

Phase 3 would begin the actual scripting, wherein I take those subpoints and attempt to put them into a reasonable script-like format to tell any prospective artist what should happen on that page.

(Finding an artist would be a problem down the road, but I might never get that far.)

So now the goal is to complete Phase 2 this week and maybe next weekend start into Phase 3 and see what I can do.  Maybe it will work, but probably it will not.  Really I should have thought this through a little more; look before you leap as the old saying goes.

If you know anything about this topic and have any words of wisdom, let me know.  (There’s no point in letting me know that you don’t know anything about this topic just so you can maybe earn a point…)

That is all…for now.

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