Essential Tips on Writing a Graphic Novel

writing a graphic novel


In the past decade, mass media has been bombarded by a slew of movies and TV series that are based on graphic novels. What are graphic novels though? What separates them from comics?

The main difference of a graphic novel and a comic book is that the graphic novel is usually a longer and self-contained story, whereas, comics are usually written in serialized stories, and divided into small issues. As the name suggests, graphic novels are really novels, just in illustrated form.

Judging from well-known TV shows such as The Walking Dead, to movies such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, it is clear to see that the graphic novel genre is really thriving. If you are a fan of the medium, you should really think of writing a graphic novel of your very own.

This is easier said than done, though. Remember that graphic novels are very popular, and also take a lot of work to create.

You will not only need to have a great story, but beautiful art as well. If you want to succeed in this endeavor, it is important that you have a strategy.

Here are some essential tips on writing a great graphic novel.


1. Study other graphic novels

While your graphic novel should be as original as possible, this does not mean that you can’t get inspiration from other more well-known works.

If you are an avid fan of graphic novels, you may already have a collection of graphic novels on hand. Before you start the writing process, you should read as many graphic novels as possible.

Try to learn as much as you can. This does not mean that you should copy their ideas. Instead, you should take note of the ideas that actually work, and which ones need to be improved.


2. Come up with a unique concept

If you are going to write a graphic novel of your own, you should make sure that you have a unique concept. Remember that there are a multitude of graphic novels, and if you want your own work to stand out, it should be as unique as possible.

Don’t rush into the writing process right away. Instead, you should brainstorm key concepts that you could write about. They must be interesting and must be able to snare your reader’s attention right away. You should also make sure that it could be interpreted in graphic novel format effectively.


3. Choose a genre

Aside from choosing a unique concept for your graphic novel, you should also settle on a genre.  Make sure that you choose your genre well, because a great deal depends on our choice.

If your genre choice is bad, you will run the risk of writing a sub-par graphic novel. Remember that your chances of success depend on not only your abilities as a writer and artist, but your target market as well. Take the time to research what genres are best for you.


4. Discover your own art style

If you know how to draw, it would be logical that you illustrate the graphic novel. However, the ability to draw does not guarantee that your art style is good. Remember that there are a myriad of artists out there who could draw great illustrations, however, they could not create their own original work.

Before you settle on a specific art style, take the time to experiment first. Try to draw a unique art style that could be attributed to you. The style must be different from the works of other artists, and have subtle characteristics that your readers will notice.

If you don’t have drawing skills, you could still produce a graphic novel. There are many illustrators who offer their services at affordable rates. However, you should be picky as well. Don’t just hire the first or cheapest illustrator available. Remember that aside from the story, your illustrations will also be judged by your readers. So make sure you take your time, and choose wisely.

Once you do choose your illustrator, you should have an efficient working relationship with him or her. Tell the illustrator what you expect of him or her.  Most of all, you should trust in the illustrator’s ability to capture the nuances of your work in their art.


5. Have a set writing schedule

When you write your graphic novel, you should make sure that you have a writing schedule to follow. Even if you don’t have a publisher that hounds you constantly, you should at least set a time limit for yourself.

This will enable you to work with a purpose, and prevent you from procrastinating. Remember that we are given a finite amount of time each day, so you should use it to the best of your abilities.


6. Dialogue is key

Apart from having a unique art style, you should make sure that the dialogue is as immersive as possible. Remember that dialogue is an immersive part of the graphic novel. Take the time to write down the dialogue, and tweak them as you see fit. The dialogue must have a certain punch and wit that will make your work more immersive. The dialogue should also match your illustrations, and pacing.

If you work with an illustrator, you should make sure that you work as closely as possible. When you send him or her your first draft, you should make sure to give ample instruction on what a scene should look like, and how the panels and dialogue should be paced.


7. Create a trial draft of your graphic novel

Once you have the story and your art style down, you should try to make a first draft for your graphic novel.  When you write and draw your first draft, you should not feel pressured. Remember that this is just your first draft, so you are not expected to make a hit right away.

You may also have your draft reviewed by fellow graphic novel creators. They will be able to see what needs to be improved, and what works. If you are given negative reviews, you should not feel insulted or let down.

This is a part of writing a graphic novel, so you should develop thick skin. Take their reviews to heart, and use them to further improve your graphic novel.



Writing a graphic novel may seem like a dream for comic book lovers, however, creating a graphic novel may be a difficult endeavor. With these tips, you’ll know how to write a graphic novel in the best way possible.

If you want to learn more about other genres and finally self-publishing a book, check out Writers Republic. Get a free consultation and be a published author now!

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