Marissa’s 2018 Reading List

Posted on: 7th Jan 2019  /   Categorized: Book Love

It’s time for my annual books list post! I did not hit my goal of reading 100 books last year, but at a grand total of 72 books read, I did at least surpass the 68 that I read in 2017. Progress? (I’m going for 80 books in 2019 – wish me luck!)

Here is my statistical breakdown:

Total Books Read: 72 (of which 10 were enjoyed as audiobooks)

Fiction

Young Adult: 34 (but one was Renegades and I included Archenemies twice, so really… 31.)

Graphic Novels: 4

Middle Grade: 3

Romance: 1

Classic Lit: 1

Short Stories: 1

Non-Fiction

Personal Development: 18

General: 5

Memoir: 3

Writing Guides: 2

And as per tradition, here are my 10 Favorite Books that I Read in 2018!

(In alphabetical order by title.)

1. 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans by Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.

I read a lot of personal development, but this was one of the most insightful books I’ve read in a long time. The book breaks down thoughts on life, family, relationships, health, work, and fulfillment, as compiled from hundreds of interviews with people in their later years. I found it to be an incredibly comforting read, as a lot of the interviewees talk about how their later decades have been some of the happiest of their lives, and a lot of the wisdom they offer really made me stop to contemplate my own life and choices (in a good way).

 

2. Check, Please! #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (graphic novel)

This graphic novel is SOOOOOOO CUUUUUUUUTE. Synopsis: a former figure skater joins his college hockey team and son begins to fall in love with the team captain. Add in great characters and thoughtful writing, and all the gushy, squishy, happy feelings ensue!

 

 

 

3.Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig

Dangerous heists! Drag queens turned cat burglars! A rich heiress, a mysterious death, a cute assistant with a slightly worrisome adrenaline addiction! This book checked a lot of boxes on my “things I love” list, and I enjoyed every page of this super fast-paced read.

 

 

 

4.I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Oh, the FEEEEELS. I very much related to the slightly neurotic, over-planning Desi Lee. Her fool-proof (cough) plot to make the cute new boy at school fall in love with her using tropes from Korean dramas was hysterical and adorable and sometimes squeamishly awkward. I often cringed at Desi Lee’s misguided attempts, but those cringes were accompanied by lots of melty sighs!

 

 

5. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

If you’ve never read a Laini Taylor book, drop everything and read one right now! She is one of my auto-buy authors, and I’m constantly amazed at her ability to combine breathtaking prose and world-building with intense, heart-stopping plots. And romance!!!! Strange the Dreamer was one of my top reads of 2017, and this follow-up DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

 

 

6. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

I enjoyed this as an audiobook, which I highly recommend, because the voice actor was amazing. The book re-envisions the marriage, brief reign, and death of Lady Jane Grey, giving a whole new twist to history. There is romance! There is betrayal! There is a ton of raucous humor! This was one of those audiobooks that had me driving laps around the block so I could keep listening a little longer. (Also, these three authors have totally struck gold with each other, because I equally enjoyed My Plain Jane, a retelling of Jane Eyre that includes Charlotte Bronte as a main character. Read them both!!)

 

7. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

This is one of those books that had been on my TBR for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. Set in New Orleans in the 1950s, the story follows the daughter of a prostitute as she tries to establish a life for herself outside of her mother’s reputation, but ghosts from the past are constantly returning to try and drag her down. Josie, intelligent, brave, and strong-willed, is one of my favorite protagonists of the year, and the way Ruta brought New Orleans to life made me feel like I was walking the streets of the French Quarter. Loved it!!

 

8.The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

This book was as fascinating and gripping as any fiction book I read this year! Filled with both science and history, this book examines why we do what we do (over and over again), on personal, communal, and societal levels. IT’S SO INTERESTING. Not only has it helped me establish some new habits this past year, but it also gave me a lot of fun “did you know” tidbits to pull out in social gatherings.

 

 

9. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (audiobook)

You’ve all read this already, right?? I positively adored both the book and the movie, in no small part because Simon is just so stinking charming and loveable!!! I cried, I swooned, I turned the final page with a very happy smile.

 

 

 

10. Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Calling all Lunar Chronicles fans! Put this on your list PRONTO!! I can’t say enough good things about this sci-fi retelling of Les Miserables (one of my all-time favorite books, now updated with cyborgs and spaceships! YESSSS.) The world-building is spectacular, the plot is full of twists that surprised even this long-time fan of Les Mis, and the characters manage to be both familiar and unique at the same time. I cannot wait for Book Two!! (And on a side note, I’ve realized this is the third of the last four years where my Top 10 has included a Jessica Brody book: A Week of Mondays in 2015 and The Chaos of Standing Still in 2017. She’s another of my auto-buy authors, but Sky Without Stars is officially my fav of all her works thus far.)

And with those recommendations leading the crowd, here is my complete 2018 reading list, for all interested parties:

1.       Bluefish by Pat Schmatz (audiobook)

2.       Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

3.       The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

4.       The Secret Societies Handbook by Michael Bradley

5.       Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest

6.       On a Dollar a Day: One Couple’s Unlikely Adventures in Eating in America by Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard

7.       The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (graphic novel)

8.       P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

9.       Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

10.   In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

11.   Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell (audiobook)

12.   Romeo and What’s Her Name by Shani Petroff

13.   Living the Simple Life by Elaine St. James

14.   Siren’s Song by Mary Weber

15.   First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

16.   Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey

17.   Transcendent by Katelyn Detweiler

18.   Lintang and the Brightest Star by Tamara Moss

19.   Give It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno

20.   Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

21.   Ally by Anna Banks

22.   Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy

23.   Ready for Anything by David Allen

24.   Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

25.   Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

26.   Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

27.   Eve & Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

28.   Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (audiobook)

29.   Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

30.   Do Less: A Minimalist Guide to a Simplified, Organized, and Happy Life by Rachel Jonat

31.   Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

32.   The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

33.   L’art de la Simplicite by Dominique Loreau (audiobook)

34.   How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

35.   30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans by Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.

36.   Don’t Cosplay with My Heart by Cecil Castellucci

37.   Spinning by Tillie Walden (graphic novel)

38.   I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

39.   Renegades by me!

40.   Archenemies , also by me!

41.   My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton (audiobook)

42.   How to American by Jimmy O. Yang (audiobook)

43.   Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam

44.   The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List by Bailey Adams

45.   Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (audiobook)

46.   Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

47.   P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (audiobook)

48.   Don’t Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough

49.   Archenemies, by me! Again! (And yes I am padding this list a little bit)

50.   The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (audiobook)

51.   Lois Lane: Double Down by Gwenda Bond

52.   More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger

53.   How Pleasure Works by Paul Bloom

54.   My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (audiobook)

55.   A Year Right Here: Adventures with Food and Family in the Great Nearby by Jess Thomson

56.   Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige (graphic novel)

57.   The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

58.   The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (audiobook)

59.   How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

60.   Black Wings Beating by Alex London

61.   Check, Please! #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (graphic novel)

62.   A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming by Dylan Tuccillo, Jared Zeizel, and Thomas Peisel

63.   The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

64.   TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

65.   Thrive by Adrianna Huffington

66.   Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

67.   Getting Unstuck: Break Free of the Plateau Effect by Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson

68.   Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

69.   Once a Scoundrel by Mary Jo Putney

70.   Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

71.   Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig

72.   Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

ARCHENEMIES Cover Reveal, Touring Info, + News!

Posted on: 22nd Jun 2018  /   Categorized: Archenemies

This blog post is WAY overdue, as I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my site lately and wasn’t able to post anything. (Thank you Sarah, Tech Extraordinaire, for fixing it!!)

 

And now – I have so much news!

 

First: The BIG exciting announcement that RENEGADES is now a trilogy! That’s right, I’m thrilled to announce that there will be a total of three books in the series.

Second: I have a cover to share for Archenemies and how amazing is it?!

 

 

I love it and can’t wait to share the book with you on November 6!

 

A bit more about the book: 

 

Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other’s worst nightmare.

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.

 

Third: Have you seen the RENEGADES character art posters?

 

Fierce Reads is doing a preorder promotion for ARCHENEMIES where you can get your name in the paperback of RENEGADES and the character art poster in the fall. Details below – make sure you click through to the form for all the legalese stuff and to submit. (This promotion is open to US residents only.)

You can preorder ARCHENEMIES now.

 

Fourth (Fifth? I’ve lost count): Tour information!

I’ll be on the second leg of my international book tour in August, visiting Brazil, Argentina, and Panama (and Mexico at the end of November!)

Plus, I’ll be on the Fierce Reads tour in October, and again on book tour for Archenemies when it releases in November!

All dates and locations to come.

I hope to see you!

I will announce tour details here and in my newsletter when I have them.

Title Reveal + Giveaway!

Posted on: 28th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Archenemies

The sequel to RENEGADES will be hitting bookstores this November, and I am finally allowed to call it something other than “Renegades 2!” That’s right, it has an official TITLE!

 

Are you ready?

 

Coming November 6, 2018…

 

DUN DUN DUUUUUN!

EEEEEH, I AM SO EXCITED!!!!

To celebrate… let’s have a Renegades-themed giveaway!

THE PRIZES

– Three (3) winners will each received a signed copy of RENEGADES (international paperback edition) and assorted superhero-themed swag.

 

 

THE DETAILS
– Open internationally.
– Closes to entries midnight PST on Wednesday, March 7.
– Winners will be randomly selected and notified on March 8.

To win, enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Note: If you are reading this on Goodreads and can’t see the Rafflecopter form, head to my web site here.

It’s a Birthday Giveaway! Enter to Win GONE ROGUE, exclusive swag, + more!

Posted on: 19th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Giveaways

Today is my birthday (confetti and champagne for all!), and to celebrate… I’m giving away some Books!! And also Other Things!

To enter, fill out and submit the Rafflecopter form below. The more connected you and I are on social media, the more chances you have to win!

 

THE PRIZES

– Five (5) runner-ups will each received a signed copy of WIRES AND NERVE, VOLUME 2: GONE ROGUE, a set of exclusive WIRES AND NERVE nail wraps from Espionage Cosmetics, and an “I Love YA Comics” temporary tattoo from First Second Books.

– ONE (1) grand prize winner will receive all of the above prizes PLUS a signed copy of RENEGADES, a signed copy of HEARTLESS (UK, paperback), a decorative patch, and a wolf charm necklace!

 

 

DETAILS
– Open internationally.
– Winners will be randomly selected.
– Closes to entries midnight PST on Monday, February 26. Winners will be alerted on February 27.
– Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Note: If you are reading this on Goodreads and can’t see the Rafflecopter form, head to my web site here.

Get Your Free Printable Activity Book!

Posted on: 13th Feb 2018  /   Categorized:

You know those cheesy activity books you would get when you were a kid, usually before going on a long road trip? The kind with mazes and coloring pages and little tic-tac-toe squares? Well, for years I’ve had this crazy idea about wanting to create one of those for fans and readers of my books, as a THANK YOU for your enthusiasm and support.

And I am thrilled to say that my little dream has come true!

I had the great joy of collaborating with Kathryn Gee (the artist behind The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book) on a series of fun book-related activities, and our booklet is now ready for your enjoyment!

 

 

What’s Inside the MarissaMeyer.com Activity Book:
– Exclusive coloring page featuring Cinder, Cath, and Nova
– “Help get the Rampion to Earth Safely” maze
– “Create Your Own Superhero” game
– Renegades quote coloring page
– Lunar Chronicles crossword puzzle
– “Help Decorate Cath’s Lemon Tarts” coloring pages
– Renegades madlibs
– “What is your job on the Rampion crew?” quiz and profiles
– Make your own superhero masks activity
– Recipe for Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Chocolate Bars

 

The booklet is printable and shareable, and I encourage readers to print out as many copies as they would like for themselves and other YA readers. I would also LOVE to hear from teachers, librarians, or book clubs who might use the activities in conjunction with themed parties and events, too!

 

Enjoy!!

 

To receive the booklet, just subscribe to my newsletter.
You will automatically be sent a downloadable .pdf link.

 

Marissa’s Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel: Part IV

Posted on: 8th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Wires & Nerve

Welcome to the final installment of my blog series on how I wrote the WIRES AND NERVE graphic novels! If you missed any of the previous posts, start from the beginning.

 

The first three parts of this series were mostly about writing the actual script for the book. Once it’s finalized and approved, it’s time for the script to go to the artist, and that’s when the real magic starts to happen!

 

 

Character Sketches

Before the artist delved into the script, he first provided character sketches of the main players, based off descriptions that I’d provided, so we could be sure they all matched my vision. Most of the character sketches were spot-on right from the start, but a handful required some tweaking.

Initial sketches for Cress, Kinney, Jacin, and Iko.

 

Initial sketch for Thorne, followed by revised options.

 

After approval, he was able to start in on the script!

 

And here, to be completely frank, I became pretty uninvolved, so I don’t actually know too much about what happens behind the scenes, though I suspect—like with authors—every artist has their own process that works for them. I know with the first WIRES AND NERVE, the artist Douglas Holgate would sometimes send sequences of pages out of order, so perhaps he was working on what was most inspiring him, or focusing on a particular subplot or character at a time. Whereas with Volume 2: GONE ROGUE, the artist Stephen Gilpin submitted all pages in order, starting from the beginning.

 

Whatever their process, though, once they had a bundle of sketched pages completed, those would be forwarded on to me and the publisher to review. I was repeatedly reminded that these sketches were “rough”—in some cases more directional than anything else—but they were still head and shoulders beyond what I’d expected for a first draft, and this was the point when I started getting really super excited. It looked and felt like a real graphic novel! Eeeeeh!!!

 

First “rough” sketches.

 

In seeing the initial sketches, I was able to give feedback and make requests for changes, though I have to say, both of the artists that we worked with on these books were SO good, and I could not have been any more impressed with their quality of work. They both nailed my vision for the story on the first try 95% of the time, and I almost never had to ask for any big changes. There would be the occasional request for consistency or world-building stuff (i.e., sometimes Cinder’s cyborg hand ended up on her right hand and had to be switched to the left, or there was one time when the artist had drawn a citizen of Luna with a pipe in his mouth, which I requested to be taken out because there is no nicotine on Luna, stuff like that).

 

After all feedback was submitted (from me, my editor, and the book’s designer), the artist went back and updated the sketches. The next round of pages would begin to look a lot more finished:

 

Second-round pages.

 

Sometimes the pages would have text at this stage, sometimes not. The text is added in by someone else, not the artist, and it never became clear to me at what point they get in to the files to add it in.

 

Once the illustrations and lettering are finished, I get to review the whole thing again, now as a complete book. I LOOOOOOOVE this part. With my novels, too, I love when I finally get the typeset page proofs, because in both circumstances it is the first time when I can look at the book and see it as readers will see it. It feels like something official and real and professional, and this stage is often the first time in the process when I can really take a deep breath and think—“You know what? I’ve totally got this.” (A shame that it takes that long to feel confident about any project, but I’ve come to realize that’s just part of the job.)

 

Final pages.

 

So with the final pages in hand, I will conduct one last read-through. Here I am checking to make sure the story is consistent, there are no glaring problems in the text or illustrations, and the dialogue doesn’t feel too wordy at any given point. I find myself doing a fair bit of editing at this stage, because once you see all the text typeset onto the page, you can usually tell when the characters are talking too much. Also, things that seem like they need lots of explanation in the script now seem like they need much less explanation, often because the illustrations are doing so much of the work themselves.

 

I generally get to see any changed pages one more time to make sure all edits were made correctly, and then…

 

It’s off to the printer!! Woot!

 

And at some point after that, a big carton of gorgeous, finished, beautiful books are delivered to my door, and to bookstores everywhere, and we all ogle and squeal and dance around our living rooms clutching them joyously to our bosoms and crying tears of overwhelming delight.

I mean, that’s totally normal, right?

 

   

 

And that’s how my journey was writing WIRES AND NERVE and WIRES AND NERVE, VOLUME 2: GONE ROGUE. In the end, I absolutely loved writing these two graphic novels. In fact, it is probably the most fun I’ve had writing something since my days of Sailor Moon fanfiction! I definitely have more graphic novel ideas in the works, so I hope to try my hand at it again in the future.

 

But in the meantime, I sincerely hope you guys will love the conclusion to Iko’s story in GONE ROGUE… in stores now!

 

 

 

Read this blog series from the beginning: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Marissa’s Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel: Part III

Posted on: 7th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Wires & Nerve

In yesterday’s post, I talked a bit about my process for pre-writing (both novels and graphic novels), and some of the differences between the two.

Today, I want to go into more detail on the actual writing of the script–particularly the panel descriptions–and some of the more technical things to consider when writing a graphic novel or comic.

 

Developing a Style

Like I mentioned in Part I, I discovered in researching comic writing styles that some authors write incredibly lengthy and detailed descriptions for their panels, with a very specific plan for how they want a setting to look or an action sequence to play out, while other authors are more generic with their descriptions and opt to leave the details, and sometimes the actions themselves, up to the artists’ discretion.

I’d say that I ended up falling somewhere in the middle, but I only discovered this in practice. Because I already knew these characters so well, I had a very keen sense of how any of them would react at any given time, so a lot of my artistic direction was focused on how each character’s facial expression should be, or their hand gestures or body language.

There would also be times when I had a very clear idea of what a setting looked like, and that would lend itself to a lengthier panel description—especially for settings that have already been described in the novels, as it was important to me that the two match.

Here’s an example of one of my lengthier panel descriptions:

 

 

Alternatively, there would be pages, especially action-oriented or exposition-heavy pages, where the descriptions were much shorter, and I was more than happy to let the artist take over and do what he does best—bringing the story to life through the illustrations.

 

 

On average, I would say that the majority of panels had no more than two or three sentences describing the illustration, and yet both of the artists I worked with were able to capture what I envisioned wonderfully. Though that could have a lot to do with the competence and talent of those artists as much as anything in the script!

 

Other Considerations

Beyond just trying to tell the story in this new, visual format, there were a number of other things that I tried to keep in mind as I was writing the script.

Number of panels: Generally, I aimed to keep each page to around four to six panels. That felt like a good, natural pace for this story. However, there are plenty of exceptions – times when more or fewer panels made more sense. There were also times when I wanted a page to end on a mini-cliffhanger, or wanted a big visual reveal after a page turn, so that required some finagling of the panels to make sure the page ended where I needed it to.

Balancing dialogue and visuals: I also tried to keep a balance between pages that are super dialogue heavy and those that are more visual. In scenes where there’s lots of exposition (i.e., dialogue explaining stuff), I tried hard to come up with actions for the characters to be doing, so it wouldn’t just be a face panel after a face panel after a face panel.

(That said, I have to give a ton of credit to the artists—Stephen Gilpin and Douglas Holgate—who often took the art direction I’d given in the script and ran with it, making the illustrations even more exciting and action-oriented than I’d foreseen, and always in ways that blew me away! But more on working with the artist later.)

Chapter length: Though I didn’t have any strict rules to follow as to how long a chapter should be, I like to have some consistency in chapter length (ditto in my novels), so if a chapter was running long, I would consider how to tighten it up, and if it felt too short, I would consider if anything could be rearranged in the chapters before or after it to even them out. I try not to pad a chapter merely for the sake of increasing page count, but usually with a bit of brainstorming I could find ways to make it work.

Ending on an even number: I knew that I wanted each chapter to begin on a right-hand page, which meant that every chapter had to be an even number of pages (30 or 32, never 31). This later had the added benefit of letting the designer add in those pretty star-covered chapter breaks throughout the book.

 

SFX (a.k.a. Sound Effects)

One element of graphic novel writing that is a LOT different from writing novels was coming up with the Sound Effects!

 

 

The thing about sound effects in comics is that, when done well, the reader hardly notices them. They become a part of the picture, and when your eye hits them, you “hear” it in your head, without any annoying, practical voices in your thoughts piping up to say, “Ummmm, what exactly is PFFFT supposed to mean?”

However, when you’re writing the script, without any visual context to guide you, it can be pretty hard to silence those annoying, practical voices.  Pretty much all sound effects look weird in the script (at least to me!), so this part of the process required a lot of trust that they would work once they got placed into the illustrations.

How do you come up with sound effects? For me, it involved a whole lot of sitting in my office, staring at the ceiling, and making funny noises, trying to determine how that would be spelled, exactly.

So when Iko is injured and her internal wires are sparking, I would think, okay, a spark sounds like….  “Zip? Zap? Zat? Zzzzzzit? Snap crackle pop?”

Eventually, I ended up with the sound effect: SZIT SZIT

Still looks weird, even now, but I think it works pretty well in context.

 

Beyond that, I spent a fair amount of time poring through my own collection of graphic novels to see what sound effects other people had used in certain situations, or browsing around the Comic Books Sound Effects Database. This usually gave me a jumping-off point for, say, how does a spaceship engine sound, or a gunshot, or a scream.

 

 

Once the script was complete, it went through revisions and editing, just like with any manuscript.

 

Then… the fun part.

 

Up next, in the fourth and final installment of this series, I’ll talk about working with the artist!

 

 

Read this blog series from the beginning: Part I | Part II | Part III

Marissa’s Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel: Part II

Posted on: 6th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Wires & Nerve

In Part I of this blog series, I talked about where the idea for Wires and Nerve came from, and some of the resources I used to research graphic novel scriptwriting.

The next step for me was very similar to my process with novel-writing, too.

I started to plan out the story.

 

Pre-Writing

Once I felt like I had a solid grasp on what needed to go into the script and what the formatting would look like, it was time to start really figuring out the scope of the overall story. This part of the process looked pretty much exactly like how I start all of my books. I’m a planner / outliner, so I employed a lot of the same strategies here.

I already had a basic premise for the story:

Rogue Lunar wolf soldiers are wrecking havoc on Earth, and Iko has taken it upon herself to hunt them down and return them to Luna before they can destroy the tenuous new peace agreement that’s been established. There would also be romance, a new villain rising to power, and some flashbacks that delved more into Iko’s backstory.

With that premise in mind, I spent lots of time brainstorming ideas for scenes, plot twists, characters, settings, and ways to work in all of our favorite crew mates from the Rampion, while trying to build on the places where Winter had left off.

 

Once I felt like the story was forming into something coherent, I drafted a full synopsis and had it approved by my editor.

 

That synopsis then became the start of writing a scene-by-scene outline—again, this very much mimics my process for novel-writing.

However, once I had my scene-by-scene outline complete, I narrowed in on the story even more, employing a strategy that Stan Lee himself uses (because, hey, if it works for Stan Lee, who am I to argue?).

With my complete outline in hand, I set about writing a page-by-page outline, detailing exactly what needed to happen on each and every page that would move the story forward.

Though I didn’t save any of that original outline, it was a really simple breakdown of the story – nothing complicated. It essentially looked like:

1: Establish scene – somewhere in Australia
2: Iko scaling cliff
3: Iko arrives outside abandoned mine
4-5: Preparing to enter mine, Iko explains how she is hunting wolf soldiers
6: Enters the mine; show how she is alone
7: Searching the mine, establish creepy setting
8: A wolf soldier sneaks up behind her
9: Fight!
10: Iko tries to get soldier to surrender
11: Iko shoots soldier and misses; he discovers that she’s an android
12: Soldier runs away; Iko chases him.

Etc. Etc. Easy, right?

I’m not sure I would have done this if I hadn’t read about Stan Lee doing it, but it was easily one of the best tips I’d learned. Because once I started drafting the script, I discovered that it is SO EASY to get caught up writing pages and pages of dialogue, without anything ever happening. Or having so much dialogue dumped onto a page that you forget to give the characters interesting visual things to be doing at the same time. But by starting off with this page-by-page outline, it ensured that something interesting and important would be happening at all times.

It also forced me to maintain a bit of brevity at those times when I wanted to go off on tangents. And I always want to go off on tangents.

Which is all to say—Thank You, Stan Lee!

 

Discovering the Scrivener Template

Once my outlines were complete, I transferred them into a Scrivener file.  I do all my writing using the software program Scrivener, and whether you write books or graphic novels, I cannot recommend the program enough. It has really made my life so much easier in so many ways, and I can’t even imagine how I managed to write Cinder using nothing but Microsoft Word way back when. (Dude, old school.)

 

So when I first set out to write WIRES AND NERVE, I was so excited to see that Scrivener comes equipped with a comic book script template! (Sweet!)

That means that I didn’t need to waste my time formatting everything (center the text, capslock, character name, next line, tab tab tab, dialogue) and on and on. Rather, the template intuitively knows that after a panel comes a panel description, which is usually followed by a character name, which is followed by dialogue, and it automatically changes the formatting as you go. It did take some practice to get a hang of the proper keystrokes to get it to do what I wanted it to do, but once I got past the learning curve, the formatting aspect took care of itself. Hallelujah!

 

 

Drafting a Novel vs. a Graphic Novel

So at this point, once I really started getting into the nitty-gritty writing of the thing, I discovered possibly the biggest difference between writing a novel and a graphic novel—at least for me. Because I’ve gotten used to drafting very fast first drafts of my books, it is not unusual for me to average 1500+ words (6 pages) in an hour, or 5000+ words (20 pages) a day, when I’m working on a novel.

Which is not the case with writing graphic novels! (Again, at least for me. Very possibly there are other writers who can burn through these pages with no problem. I am so not one of them.)

Why?

Because with a graphic novel, I found myself having to pause before writing every. Single. Panel. Pause and ask myself:

What is happening in this panel?
Okay, what does that look like?
Picture it in my mind…
Okay, how do I convey that to the artist?
Type type type…
Okay, now what are the characters saying here?
Type type type…
Umm, okay, that’s pretty good. Do we need any sound effects? Yes? Well, what does that sound like?
Think think think…
Type type type…
I think I like that. Good job. *pats self on back*
Moves on to next panel.
So… what is happening in this panel?

 

So every step of the way would require me to stop and consider the story, panel-by-panel, action-by-action, line-by-line, and there just wasn’t anything speedy about it!

 

 

In Part III, I’ll go into a bit more detail on panel descriptions and other technical considerations of scriptwriting. Stay tuned!

 

Read this blog series from the beginning: Part I | Part II

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