Things to Do Before You Start a Comic or Graphic Novel

18th Jun 2020

Things to Do Before You Start a Comic or Graphic Novel

Things to Do Before You Start a Comic or Graphic Novel

18th Jun 2020

All it takes is an idea to get you started; one spark and you’re off. Many believe that getting the idea is the hardest part of creating a comic book or graphic novel, but there’s a lot of work involved in every step of the process.

Writing comics is an art form, from font to page size to coloring, but it’s also an arduous process. If you have the inkling of an idea and want to see it through to fruition, you should brainstorm ideas, outline your graphic novel or comic, and think about colors and layout.

Comic Prewriting

You may have heard this term before, but you may not know where to begin. Prewriting is all the processes you use before you put your pen on the paper. These techniques include brainstorming, outlining, and storyboarding.

Here are some details so that you can try out these effective writing strategies. 

Start by Brainstorming

Any method you choose to come up with new ideas, flesh out existing characters, or connect plot points is only going to make your storyline better.

People may be attracted to the beautiful drawing and coloring of a graphic novel, but if it doesn’t have a compelling story, they may leave off reading it and merely look at the pictures.

Some precise methods that some use to brainstorm creative ideas are mind mapping, word association, lists, and storyboarding. 

Word Association

This is a more messy method of coming up with ideas. Write one word that pertains to your protagonist or plot, and then write down any word that you associate with it. 


This brainstorming method is exactly how it sounds. You make lists about characters, plot points, setting, theme, or any other component of your story. This is your creative process, so whatever feels the most natural to you is the way to go.


This is a very rough outline of your ideas using a combination of images and words to plot out your ideas. You don’t need to use color or even fine details; instead, visually map out the major plot points of your story, or introduce important features of your characters and their dialogue.

Much like a director and writer plan out a movie, begin experimenting with close-up shots and angles as if a camera was focused on your characters. Storyboarding can help you decide the best layouts for your story later on in the process.

There is no right or wrong way to brainstorm; whichever method you find is most productive for your creative process is the one you should use. 

Begin Outlining

Many writers use outlines to help when they’ve stalled out further on in the writing process. Being able to refer back to a detailed overview amid writer’s block is essential to push past it.

Make as detailed an outline in the prewriting phase as you can, including all relevant snippets you want to include in your storyline. Sometimes, details in the framework never even make it to the final draft. That doesn’t matter; all of the prewriting informs your finished product.

An outline can even veer off into character history. The protagonist’s backstory may not be essential to the reader, but it is necessary for you, as the creator, to know. If you only understand marginal parts of your character’s formation, they come off as flat to your readers.

Design Your Comic

Drawing, inking and coloring, and lettering are all parts of the design package. Technically, storyboarding is part of this design process, too, as many writers and artists use elements of their storyboards in their finished product.

Drawing the layout of your comic book or graphic novel is one of the most exciting aspects as you see your efforts come to fruition. Your characters start to walk and talk for you, which is only amplified by the next steps of the process.

As the inking and coloring layer your story with meaning, your message becomes more apparent. Finally, lettering takes place, which involves choosing the font, size, and bold and italics, giving your dialogue expression, and highlighting crucial details for your readers. 

Plan Your Layout

When you’re involved in the design process, think about layout. What your first run at your comic looks like depends on how much dialogue you have, how much exposition, and how much of each you need to fit into a panel.

You’re undoubtedly familiar with the word dialogue. As the speaking part of your story, your characters often utter the majority of information as dialogue. Save the most wrenching, insightful tidbits for your characters to say, and the rest you can create with exposition.

Exposition is the small clips of description that help flesh out individual graphics. The snippets can describe the setting, give vital flashback information, or explain a character’s actions. However, don’t put too much exposition in a panel or the reading can become arduous.

There are many components to graphic novel design, which make creating one transformative and fascinating. 


You can go a couple of different routes when you finally have a draft ready and polished enough to unleash on the public. You can pitch to an agent, directly to a publishing house, or you can go your own way and publish on your own.

Pitching to an agent or publishing house requires a lot of determination. Often, you won’t hear back from agents or houses at all. However, this traditional avenue offers feedback and insight into the publishing business.

Generally, pitching to an agent is more effective in terms of long-term engagement because, if you land one, the agent can guide you in many pragmatic and creative decisions.

Pay-to-print services like Comix Well Spring offer state-of-the-art design options like paper type, gloss or matter, color or black-and-white, and more. You select how many issues you’d like in your first run and have creative control and full ownership rights from start to finish.

In Conclusion

It’s quite a feeling to hold a finished comic book in your hands. It never comes out exactly how you planned it in the beginning as your vision evolves through the publishing process. It becomes something wholly new and unexpected.

Comix Well Spring can help take your idea and help it blossom into a work of art. Our printing services offer a range of style and design options for your comic or graphic novel.   

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