Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 20, 2011

Graphic Novel Experiment

As part of a workshop, we took a scene from our novel and wrote it as a graphic novel script. I was quite eager to try it, as I have always felt that my middle grade novel is very visual and would lend itself to a movie or graphic novel.

The scene I chose had action at the beginning and dialogue at the end. The action portion practically wrote itself – I had so much to show! The unexpected stumbling block was the dialogue at the end.

The dialogue worked well in the novel – about a half-page of quick back-and-forth. And it would easily work well in a film, cutting back and forth between the characters as they spoke. But in a graphic novel, all I could envision was an entire page of panels that looked like carbon copies – just these two characters’ faces alternately repeating.

Since this was an experiment and I am not yet well versed in graphic novels, I muddled through as best I could. I inserted several panels that were wide shots of the scene, to break up the sameness. I pared the dialogue down as much as I could without losing the voice of the characters or the necessary information in the dialogue. Is it enough? I will find out when my instructor looks at it.

When I first approached this assignment, I felt my many years in video production would work in my favor. I even found myself wanting to use film jargon in the panel descriptions. For the most part, my ability to see the action framed in my mind did help with the project – until the dialogue, when the static nature of graphic novels made it different from a film, where within each alternating perspective you can have the actor portray a small movement that speaks volumes, or use slow zooms to emphasize emotion.

My struggle with the dialogue also made me wonder if I needed to do more with it in the novel. Did I need to have action? Did I need to spice it up somehow? I decided I did not. Novels and graphic novels are two different media. Their requirements are different. A half-page of staccato dialogue flies by in a novel, but doesn’t work as well in a graphic novel – at least, not the way I did it!

I look forward to learning more about graphic novels, and trying to improve my skills.

Have any of you adapted your work to a graphic novel? Have you considered it?

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Responses

  1. I’m enjoying the visuals. Describing a scene for an artist is helping me see my own work like I never have before.

    Like


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