Cognitive Comics

A Constructivist Approach to Sequential Art - Research Fellowship Grant from State University of New York at Buffalo. Fellowship recipient and author,


Graphic Novel Script Writing Approach

Posted by cognitivecomics on September 12, 2009 at 9:41 AM

  A local college has referred a student to me to help with graphic novel script writing. Below is my email to the student with advice:

Hi Kris,


The intro to your graphic novel script is well written but the approach is not right ( no approach is wrong in art but for a beginner you should try a far easier approach ).


  Think of script writing like this:

Approach 1: youwant to tell a story about NYC so you start from the north end of theisland and walk, zig zag all the way down to the south end ofManhattan, writing everything you see as you go. By the time you are 5minutes into the journey, the reader is wondering where is this leadingand how is it going to end. By the time you are in mid town, your feetare bleeding from walking so far and you are frustrated with the waythings are going so you give up the task.


  Approach 2: you want to tell a story about NYC so youstart with a satellite photo of Manhattan. With that you plan to startat the Science Museum on the upper West side and travel down the sideof central park to the theater district on Broadway. After that youplan to take a train cross town and down Lexington to China town whereyou are going to have the best Chinese food of your life!

    You get a helicopter and you plot out the journey. You notice allthe important landmarks, famous museums, coffee shops, etc. so you putthat into your plan and you cut out some plans too. You figure you'regoing to have trouble finding the cross town train so you'll ask alovely Chinese girl to help you.

    Lastly, you get on your feet with your entire plan and start scripting your journey from the Science museum to China town.

   You wrap up the story nicely with a surprise twist where fate has yourun into the Chinese girl who helped give you directions cross town andyou ask her to dinner.


   I don't know ANYONE who writes scripts from beginning to end.You want to plot out the main events and then fill in the dialogue/action. Start general and go to specific. Take a bird's eye view of thestory and break down the essential events that move the story forward.Phase 2, break it down even further in things that must be said betweenyour characters. Phase 3, write the action and dialog that ties thelarger pieces together.


  Let me know if that helps.

    - Don

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