How To Start A Graphic Novel Story From Scratch, Part 2

In the previous blog post, How To Start A Graphic Novel Story From Scratch, you were asked to find out possible stories for your character by observing and taking notes about the character's Ordinary Life, then coming up with possible Disturbances that would cause an imbalance so pronounced, your character has no choice but to take action. Note that this is not a rule, but it is still the most common approach used in popular storytelling.

Once you've zeroed in on the Disturbance you want to pursue, take some time to figure out how your character would approach the problem, or begin to solve it. This is the Discoveries stage. Imagine your character doing any of the following:

  • Explore how big or small the problem is (Ozma of Oz)
  • Find reliable information from friendly and unfriendly characters, or through research and investigation (Watchmen)
  • Acquire allies and equipment (High Roads)
  • Train to gain new and relevant skills (Arrowsmith)
  • Work out a strategy (Supercrooks)
  • Go to relevant locations and pick up clues (Fell)
Like before, take notes, particularly the Discoveries you feel the character would need reach success. While most information your character will learn would be out of his own efforts, you could also plant information that will be discovered by a stroke of luck, or in the aftermath of a challenge. That's okay, as long as it happens just once or twice.

Once you're done with the Discoveries stage, you already have the foundation for the beginning of your story. The next important step is come up with an ending.

That's right. Come up with an ending.

You already have the ingredients you need to launch the story. Coming up with an ending as early as now lets you know what everything should lead up to. It's a guide you work with once you're laying down the middle part of the story. When you have the beginning and the ending, you would just need to fill in the middle of the story so that both ends connect in a satisfying way. Let the ending be a high-impact ending, either physical, emotional, or both, but it should connect in some way with the information you've listed in the Discoveries stage. Note, however, that the ending you come up with at this point is only temporary. It's still subject to adjustments.

Putting this in a diagram, we get:

NEXT: One of the toughest things about making stories is staying committed to it from planning to drafting to the painful editing. In the next blog post, we'll reveal a simple method that will help you decide whether the story you've conceptualized is the story you want to commit to. 


Unknown said…
Very informative. Thanks for this post!
Carver said…
Thanks for reading, Solo. :-)

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