Think you’ve got a manga story in you somewhere? Most of us are capable of coming up with a decent storyline. It’s getting it out on paper that takes some skill. Here’s a few tips to help you bring out the next bestseller.
Write A Story Synopsis. Being a freelance writer, I learned a long time ago that you can’t develop your story until you know where it’s supposed to go. Your objective? Write a one paragraph synopsis of your entire story, leaving out details and character specifics. Then take that paragraph and reduce it down to one sentence. For example, Dragon Ball Z might be “a group of friends battle strange enemies to protect the Earth.” Does that really cover DBZ? No, but it sums up where the story will lead.
Create Character Profiles. In order to develop your story, you need to know who your characters are. Where did they come from? Do they have morals and values or none at all? A love interest? A best friend or an arch enemy? What makes them tick? Write a complete profile as if you were telling someone else about your guy or gal. Develop their strengths and weaknesses as these will come in handy when you begin to develop your storyline.
Write Your Story. For the moment, don’t think about layouts or issues. Just write your story. What happens? Who does it happen to? Why did she leave or why did he come back? Will his powers ever return? Why did he lose them in the first place? Get all your questions answered on paper first. Then it’s time to…
Think First Issue. With the “bigger picture” in mind, think first issue. You’ll need to give some background to your story and you’ll want enough current action to keep the reader intrigued for your next installment. Decide how much information you want to give in your first issue. Got it? Now you’re ready to storyboard.
Layout Your Storyboard. “Storyboard” is a phrase that refers to the layout of your manga or comic. Each panel conveys a certain amount of information and will also contain your artwork. Don’t worry about the illustration right now (unless of course, you can draw as well as write!). Just focus on the text. Who says what to whom? What action scenes will you include? What information will they provide? Break your story down into pieces that you can section off into individual panels.
Bring It All Together. It’s time to pull your story together with the artwork. Either find yourself a good anime artist, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at drawing your own characters. There are several great books out there that teach drawing, as well as a few good online sources. Bring each character to life with various facial expressions and the dialogue you created in the storyboard.
Publish. Ready to deliver your pilot issue to the masses? Try TOKYOPOP’s Annual Rising Star of Manga contest or put your manga online by setting up your own website. Good luck!
If you’re having trouble, start with some Fan Fiction. The characters are already created, all you need to do is play a game of “what if?” to come up with an alternate storyline.
Look at some of your favorite anime shows and mangas, and try to figure out why they’re your favorite. Is it the action? The characters? What makes it so great?
Don’t rush your masterpiece. Sometimes, great ideas can just come to you, but don’t get frustrated if the development process takes longer than you imagined.