Dummy & process for a WORDLESS GRAPHIC NOVEL

  • I'm in the process of writing a wordless graphic novel using Shaun Tan's The Arrival as my role-model example. Its a beautiful narrative that tells a sophisticated and complex story without any words, just pictures.

    Is anybody into wordless narratives?

    I'm having trouble with my dummy and manuscript. I've watched a bunch of tutorials that all say you've got to get your dialogue shaped and shiny before you do any drawing. Well the problem is I dont have any dialogue so how do I go about that?

    So far I've made some dummy pages with very basic sketches and notes like " this page: corridor. He opens the door, goes inside the room" etc. Is this how to do it? Is there another/better way? Should I write up the manuscript in the same way?

    I'm nearly through Ann Whitford Paul's course on writing picture books and I've learned a lot of great and useful things there but that didnt help with my wordless dummy problem as I'm not writing a childrens book

    If anyone can suggest any tips for the process or even other examples of wordless narratives to look at it would help me a lot! 🙂

  • Awesome! I just got that book to look through in my weekly library trip! I notice in Shaun Tan's books, even though they're super quirky and sometimes at first glance the illustrations seem almost non sequitor and random, he is always very carefully designing the reader's thoughts. Maybe, instead of writing down dialogue or narrative, you could write down the dialogue you want your viewers to have with the images? E.g. at this point in the story, this is what I want them to be curious about, worried about, wondering about, etc; this is the detail or information I'm revealing that I want them to notice--but maybe not right away. That kind of stuff. Going a level deeper than just what happens. That's just my observation, though--I've never tried to do this. I'm very curious about what you come up with!

  • @Mr-NiftyRat said in Dummy & process for a WORDLESS GRAPHIC NOVEL:

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    Preface by saying I am not an expert!! But I have been reading up on this and working on a dummy myself. It does have some wordless pages. Formatting this into dummy script was the most annoying part because it's the least "fun" but it's better than having to mock up an entire book. There are a few ways to do this apparently so it's malleable, this is how I did mine:
    Page 1/ Chapter 1
    Panel 1
    A sundog, newly rolls off of a cloud, tumbling head over heels through the sky
    Panel 2
    A sun puppy, with reflections of gold and rainbow, he plays in the sky, becoming more puppy-like and less cloudy.
    Panel 3
    King Finvarra smiles at the sky. He holds a bound book and walks to sit under the tree of knowledge.
    Page 2
    Panel 1
    The tree is large and the sunlight under it is dappled and sparkling. He seems patient, old, and wise with intricate faerie wings and a crown inspired by spring branches.
    Panel 2-4
    Finvarra settles in under the tree and opens the book. The book is blank. An inkwell and quill appear in mid-air next to the book and King Finvarra dips the quill and writes “Once upon a time...”

    I should maybe be going in to even more detail per panel but I am honestly hoping to get more feedback about it once I start querying it. I have 50 pages done per panel and page like this with the rest of the book in a synopsis.

    Another note I heard from Kids Comics Unite is that Dark Horse has a good method for this https://www.darkhorse.com/Help/FAQ/submissions check the sample script link

    I love wordless graphic novels and I wish they were around more or I had thought of them when I was a kid trying to get my reluctant reader brother to like books.