This is a trick I’ve learned from National Novel Writing Month and my Municipal Liaision, Anne.
Pick a reference book, which I like to call an “exemplar.” It’s not a book on the mechanics of writing… it’s a book you know and love, and bonus points if it is in the same category/genre as your novel. Keep it at hand in November, and use it to divine the answer to any writing questions that might arise. Not sure how to format dialogue? Take a look at your exemplar book. Not sure when to end or begin chapters? See how the author does it in your exemplar book. I also like to pick a book that has the same POV as my upcoming novel, to keep my mind on track.
My short list of possible exemplar books for Ashes: The Graphic Novel:
- Everything by Adrian Tomine, especially his 32 Stories. I love the way he frames the panels and leaves space for the reader’s imagination.
- Syllabus and What It Is by Lynda Barry. Inspiration! Drawing Exercises! Self Love!
- The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot and Becoming Unbecoming by Una and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast for how to discuss difficult topics and excellent ways to layout the panels.
- Understanding Comics and Making Comics by Scott McCloud, for a guide on how to tackle this idea in my head and how to get it on paper.
- Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes by Robin Ha and everything by Lucy Knisley, because recipes will be part of my book.
- My favorites of the graphic novels I’ve read (in no particular order):
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi especially, but everything
- Epileptic by David B.
- Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
- Everything by Theo Ellsworth
- Everything by Tove Jansson
- Everything by Alison Bechdel
- Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
- Everything by Tom Gauld
- Everything by Derf Backderf
- Li’l Depressed Boy series by S. Steven Struble
- Everything by Emily Carroll
- Everything by R. Crumb
- Stoner Knight by Greg Steele
So I shall be referencing the stories above as I work on my own. Here’s to starting the sketches and promising to dedicate 60 hours to my project in Camp NaNo in April. Back to the composition book countdown. This is the leather cover for my composition books.
But that’s a lot of books. What style am I going for? How do I level up my art skills with Body Kun models and reference materials? How do I want to tell this story? So I’ve decided on narrowing the list to Adrian Tomine, Tom Gauld, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi, and Greg Steele.