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

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

Posted on: 5th Feb 2018  /   Categorized: Wires & Nerve

    

 

I’d intended to write this blog series when WIRES AND NERVE first came out last January, but never got around to it, so here – finally! – as we’re in the midst of celebrating the launch of WIRES AND NERVE, VOLUME 2: GONE ROGUE (out now!!), I wanted to answer some of the questions that have come up over the past year and talk about the similarities and differences that I encountered in writing both novels and my first two graphic novels. So if any of you are dreaming of one day writing a graphic novel yourself, or you’re just curious about how the process works, I hope you’ll find my thoughts useful!

 

Why I Wanted to Write Graphic Novels

 

First, some backstory on how I came to write WIRES AND NERVE to begin with.

 

Writing a graphic novel is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager, and first got majorly hooked on reading manga. At the time, though, graphic novels were almost nonexistent in the U.S. – other than Marvel and DC comic book compilations, at least. The genre just hadn’t hit its stride here. So even though my friends and I would spend hours  creating our own manga, it seemed like even more of an impossible dream than my OTHER big fantasy of someday becoming a bestselling novelist. (I’m telling you, guys. Dream big. Work hard. You just never know.)

 

So anyway, fast forward about fifteen years, and I’m wrapping up Winter and Stars Above and The Lunar Chronicles are coming to an end, and it was a very bittersweet time for me. I was excited to be moving on to new projects, but also sad to be leaving these beloved characters behind. Until one day, a new idea popped into my head – a spin-off story that would take place after Winter and follow Iko as the main character. It would answer some of the questions that remained unanswered in the books, and give me a chance to explore the backstory, dreams, and desires of one of my favorite characters. And of course, Iko always thought she was the hero of the books, anyway, so it seemed fitting to finally give her a story all her own.

 

As soon as this spin-off story started to grow in my imagination, I almost immediately began to envision it in graphic novel format. It seemed like an extra visual story, and I loved the idea of being able to use the images to compare and contrast the differences between human and machine, and also human and wolf-hybrids (as I knew early on that one of Luna’s bioengineered soldiers would be the main villain).

 

So one day I pitched my shiny new idea to my editor. She loved it, the two-book series was sold, the contract was signed, and I found myself facing a conundrum.

 

I did not know the first thing about writing a graphic novel.

 

 

The Research Phase

 

Every book I write begins with a research phase, but in the case of WIRES AND NERVE, the research was not so much about plagues and cybernetics and moon colonization, but rather the technical aspects of graphic novels and comic book scriptwriting.

I needed to know:

– Standard formatting practices

– Terminology (panels, splash pages, SFX, close-up, inset panel, etc.)

– The typical responsibilities of the writer and script vs. those of the illustrator

– Scriptwriting techniques and strategies, and what I can do to convey my intentions to the illustrator to better help them translate the story for the reader

 

 

       

 

These are a few of the books I read while researching how to write a graphic novel. Though I gleaned something useful info from all of them, I would say that the one I got the most out of was Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers. It’s pretty much just a compilation of various existing comic scripts, so it was a wonderful tool for seeing the styles of different artists and how they conquered different types of scenes and storylines. It really helped set my mind at ease when I saw just how different each of the authors’ styles was. Some writers are very, very detailed, and would write lengthy descriptions of each and every panel, detailing exactly how they wanted every image laid out. On the other hand, some writers were much more sparse with their artistic direction, giving just the necessary information for the artist to understand the scope of the story and the context of the dialogue. Seeing the wide variation of techniques showed me that there wasn’t going to be any One Right Way (just like writing a novel!), which helped me get over some of my early fears of being the amateur who was going to do everything wrong. 😊

 

Once I felt like I had a decent grip on what the finished product was going to look like, and what my responsibilities were in terms of creating it, it was time to get started!

In Part II, I’ll talk about pre-writing, and some of the ways in which it was similar and different to pre-writing my novels.

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

 

Wires & Nerve, Vol. 2: GONE ROGUE is on sale TODAY!!

Posted on: 30th Jan 2018  /   Categorized: Giveaways

 

IT’S HERE!! The conclusion to Wires and Nerve is out in bookstores today, with plenty more Iko, Kinney, and the entire Rampion crew! I had SO MUCH FUN writing this graphic novel and working with the immensely talented Stephen Gilpin, and I can’t wait for you guys to read it!

 

EVENTS

 

TONIGHT – Salt Lake City, UT

Tuesday, January 30th, 7:00pm

Larimer Auditorium at Rowland Hall Upper School

Hosted by The King’s English Bookshop

Come meet me, talk about Wires and Nerve and The Lunar Chronicles, and get your book signed!

*This is a ticketed event, so please check with The King’s English to get your ticket!

 

 


 

The world of the Lunar Chronicles comes alive in this thrilling continuation of Wires and Nerve.

All your favorite characters are featured in an epic new battle. But it’s Iko who must face her deepest fears when she uncovers the truth about her own unusual programming. Questions of love, friendship, and mortality take Iko on an emotional journey that will satisfy and delight fans of this bestselling series.

Get your copy now!

 

 

 


 

In other news…

WINTER is now in paperback!

For all you paperback readers out there, the Winter paperback finally goes on sale TODAY, Tuesday, 1/30!

The final book in the #1 New York Times– and USA Today–Bestselling Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. As the story draws to a close, our team of fairytale heroines must join forces with wicked Levana’s own stepdaughter to stop the evil queen once and for all—or lose everything.

Fans will not want to miss this thrilling final installment in the national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, available now!

Buy Now

 

 


 

 

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Fierce Reads is running a HEARTLESS fan art contest! Submit your HEARTLESS-themed fan art on Instagram using #HeartlessFanArtContest and tagging @FierceReads by 2/9, and you could win a signed copy of HEARTLESS and a seriously awesome prize pack. Finalists will be chosen by me and announced on Valentine’s Day, then fans will vote to decide the winner! I’m so excited to see what you come up with. Click below for more details!

Learn more

My 2017 Reading List

Posted on: 2nd Jan 2018  /   Categorized: Book Love

Happy New Year!! This post is an annual tradition, where I look back over all the books I read and what was holding my attention over the past twelve months.

I must say, looking back over my 2017 reading list was easily the most surprising of all the years I’ve been blogging about books and writing. Because for the first time ever, I read more non-fiction than any other genre! Wha?? And by non-fiction, I pretty much just mean self-help. This year became my year of studying nutrition, food politics, and (a semi-related off-shoot) general minimalism, all of which I largely blame Michael Pollan’s IN DEFENSE OF FOOD for. (More on that below.)

But the result of reading all that non-fiction is that by the end of the year I was DESPERATE to read some YA, and now at the start of 2018 I am looking at my poor, abandoned TBR pile, and oh-so-many amazing series that I still haven’t finished (or in some cases, started!) and I am eager to dive into some romance and adventure in the new year.

Here are my 2017 reading stats, my top ten of the year, and the full list of books below.


STATISTICS

Total Books Read: 67

The breakdown:
Non-fiction: 26
     Further broken down into:
Food & Health: 12
Productivity: 6
Minimalism: 4
Other self-help: 4

Young Adult: 15
     Further broken down into:
Contemporary romance: 9
Fantasy / urban fantasy: 5
Suspense: 1

Graphic novels: 15
Middle grade: 8
Fiction (suspense): 2
Fiction (classics): 1

 

TOP TEN FAVORITE BOOKS I READ THIS YEAR
(In alpha order by author.)

The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody
I’ve been a big fan of Jessica Brody’s for years, and I think this is her best work yet. It combines her signature light-hearted romance with a deeper story focusing on grief and friendship and I loved it. As the book takes place in an airport during a snowstorm, it’s a great one to pick up this winter!

The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams
It’s rare that I think of a book as “life-changing,” yet there are TWO book on my list this year that I feel truly changed the way that I live my life. This is the first. I dare you to read it and not find your entire point of view – on your own life and the lives of those around you – shifted. It is uplifting and beautiful, thought-provoking and wise.

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8am by Hal Elrod
This is one of those books that must have been recommended to me by five or six different people before I finally picked it up, and once I read it, I could clearly see why it has so many devotees. Although I’ll admit that I have fallen off the early-morning bandwagon somewhat since I first read this, a lot of the habits have stuck, including daily visualizations and journaling, two things I never used to do, but now feel a huge shift in my day whenever I make time for them.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
I am such a late comer to Jenny Han, but since reading this one in November, I’ve added her entire backlist to my TBR. I adored the “Little Women” vibe of the sisters’ relationship. And of course – there is plenty of sweetness and swooning. Always with the sweetness and swooning.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I put this one off for a long time because I knew it would make me cry, and of course it did, but I was surprised at how heart-warming the book ultimately was. It’s the sort of book that I feel should be required reading for all of humanity. A beautiful story, beautifully told.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
And here is the second life-changing book on this list (at least, I was inspired to make unexpected life changes after reading it). I had few expectations when I picked this one up, other than I’d heard it was good, but reading it ignited such a curiosity to learn more and more about all the problems associated with a typical western diet (i.e., sugar and overprocessing), which led to learning about factory-raised meats and dairy products, which led to learning more about all the associated politics in the food industry, and on and on. Truly, I don’t think a book has had such a huge impact on how I live my day-to-day life as this one (well, and maybe David Allen’s GETTING THINGS DONE, which I read a couple of years ago and I’m still heartily devoted to his method, but that’s another story). Anyway, as a result of IN DEFENSE OF FOOD and the other nutrition-related books I read in 2017, my family and I have just about transitioned to an entirely unprocessed diet, and have gone probably about 80% vegan. It wasn’t really planned or intended, but there it is. I can’t say it’s made an enormous difference in how I feel physically, but it does feel incredible to be living more in line with my values of caring for the planet and the welfare of animals. So. Life. Food. Oversharing. There’s that. If you have even the slightest curiosity in the modern food industry, read this. It’s fascinating.

Thornhill by Pam Smy
And for something completely different (ha) – this book was so good! The art is spooky, the story is engrossing, the end gave me chills, and while I’m often disappointed in books that try to be too clever and artsy with their formatting (in this case, half the book is told in a diary entries, the other half in illustrations), here it really worked.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Another Laini Taylor masterpiece, and no one is surprised! This book is everything. Imaginative. Romantic. Whimsical. Dark. Brilliant. Though I read it back in the spring, it’s definitely one of those books that has stayed with me since. Now if only the sequel would get here!!!

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (graphic novel)
I read some really amazing graphic novels this year, but I think GHOSTS takes the prize as my favorite. I really adore Raina Telgemeier’s art style and the way she’s able to bring together various plotlines to make the story approachable and fun but also meaningful and unexpected.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
This was another friend recommendation, and I am so glad I read it! There is a LOT I could say about this book – it’s charming, it’s sweet, it’s thought-provoking, but mostly I think the reason I loved it so much was because of how very relatable Eliza’s character was, and how much she reminded me of… well, teenage Me, when I would spend hours and hours writing and posting fanfiction. The book really captures how people who create in a fandom (and in some cases, build up a fan-following themselves) really do feel like we’re two different people – on-line and off – and how it can be hard to balance those two identities. Francesca Zappia captured all of Eliza’s emotions and reactions so believably, and brought back a lot of nostalgia for me – a neat bonus on top of an engaging, deeply moving story.

 

 

Though those are my favorite books read last year, there were plenty more that I loved and would heartily recommend. Read on for the full list of books I read in 2017:

 

(more…)

Up Next: Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: GONE ROGUE!

Posted on: 28th Nov 2017  /   Categorized: Marketing & Promotion

Did Renegades just come out? YES! Am I so wonderfully thrilled to hear all of the kind things readers have been saying about it? YES! Am I hard at work on making Renegades 2 the absolute best sequel that I can possibly write for you guys? YES!

But am I also REALLY SUPER EXCITED to start talking about the continuation of Wires and Nerve?

Oh stars above, YES YES YES!

In fact, WIRES AND NERVE, VOLUME 2: GONE ROGUE might just be my favorite thing that I have ever written (shhh, don’t tell my other books!), and I cannot wait for you guys to be able to read the rest of Iko’s story on January 30!

And yesterday, being the annual #CyborgMonday, we announced some fun new things for your enjoyment!

 


ABOUT WIRES AND NERVE: GONE ROGUE

The second graphic novel, and sequel to Wires and Nerve, Volume 1, from #1 New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Meyer!

The world of the Lunar Chronicles comes alive in this thrilling continuation of Wires and Nerve . Iko—an audacious android and best friend to the Lunar Queen Cinder—has been tasked with hunting down Alpha Lysander Steele, the leader of a rogue band of bioengineered wolf-soldiers who threaten to under the tenuous peace agreement between Earth and Luna. Unless Cinder can reverse the mutations that were forced on them years before, Steele and his soldiers plan to satisfy their monstrous appetites with a massacre of the innocenct people of Earth.

And to show he’s serious, Steele is taking hostages.

Cinder and Kai, Scarlet and Wolf, Cress and Thorne, and Winter and Jacin all feature in this epic new battle. But it is Iko who must face her deepest fears when she uncovers the truth about her own unusual programming. Questions of love, friendship, and mortality take Iko on an emotional journey that will satisfy and delight fans of this bestselling series.

PRE-ORDER THE BOOK


Yesterday we revealed a brand-new excerpt from the book! 

 START READING

 


Just announced! If you preorder Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: Gone Rogue and submit your receipt, you’ll get one of these fun Iko prints, signed by yours truly!

SUBMIT RECEIPT

The small print: Limited time offer. You must electronically submit proof of purchase of Wires and Nerve, Volume 2: Gone Rogue by Monday, January 29, 2018 to take advantage of this offer. Offer limited to residents of 50 US states and DC only. Void in Puerto Rico and where prohibited by law. For Official Rules, go here. Sponsor: MCPG.

 


If you missed last night’s chat on the Renegades Discussion Boards, all my answers are still posted! Check it out here, then feel free to talk amongst yourselves….

 

 

Let the countdown begin!!

UK Cover for Renegades: REVEALED!

Posted on: 22nd Nov 2017  /   Categorized: Renegades

I LOOOOOOOVE when international publishers design their own unique book covers. It is so much fun for me to see the different takes on the story and what publishers think will appeal to the readers in their country, and I’m getting SUPER excited to start seeing what will be done with RENEGADES!

And to kick it off, I am so thrilled to be revealing the cover for RENEGADES from my UK publisher, Pan Macmillan!

Check it out!!

 

 

*gasp* *starry eyes* *effusion of hearts*

Isn’t it fabulous??? I absolutely love how they’ve captured the superhero / comic book vibe of the story, while also managing to tie it in to their version of HEARTLESS!

 

Love. Love. Love.

 

RENEGADES will release in the UK on 5 April 2018!

Learn more or pre-order your copy here: https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/marissa-meyer/renegades

 

(You can see more of my foreign book covers on this Pinterest board.)

 

RENEGADES IS OUT TODAY!

Posted on: 7th Nov 2017  /   Categorized: News

HAPPY LAUNCH DAY!!!

 

I am soooooooo excited, verklempt, thrilled, ecstatic, and – to be honest – a little amazed that RENEGADES is actually, finally, officially here. You can find it today, wherever books, audiobooks, or ebooks are sold!

I cannot WAIT for you to meet Nova, Adrian, and all the heroes and villains of Gatlon City. I truly hope you will love this book.

 

 

About Renegades

Secret Identities
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both. 

 

 

 

 

WHAT NOW?

Once you’ve read the book (or while you’re waiting to get your hands on it), here are some things to keep you occupied!

– Check out the book tour line-up to see if I’ll be in a town near you.
– Come talk superpowers, character ships, and Book Two theories on the new Renegades discussion boards.
– Start getting to know all the characters, good and bad, on these super cool character pages.
– Take the quiz to find your superpower and pledge your allegiance to the Renegades or the Anarchists

 

 

 

 

Listen to a Clip from the RENEGADES Audiobook!

Posted on: 24th Oct 2017  /   Categorized: Renegades

I am SO HAPPY that the team at Macmillan Audio chose the phenomenally talented Rebecca Soler as one-half of the narration team for RENEGADES! Rebecca narrated all of the Lunar Chronicles books AND Heartless. She is absolutely amazing and I’ve felt so lucky to work with her, and now she will be bringing our villain, Nova, to life.

On top of that, RENEGADES marks the first time in which I get a second narrator, and I’m so pleased that Dan Bittner will be reading from the point of view of Adrian.

The audiobook will be available on November 7, the same day the books go on sale – but here is a sneak preview for your listening pleasure.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE EXCERPT

 

 

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