When beginning our comic creation journeys we often find ourselves overwhelmed by ideas. We create worlds and universes filled with an abundance of characters. We have a vision for the next great graphic novel with hopes that it will be licensed out into every multi-media avenue and be beloved by many people far and wide for generations to come.
The question then becomes how does one begin on this wondrous adventure? How does a creator distill their thoughts to focus on the first page?
I believe creating a synopsis is a good way to organize your comic idea, especially for large projects. In this video I outline our process for creating one using The Rogue's Disciple, one of Prime Vice Studios own projects in the works.
Prime Vice Comics synopses include:
Always include credits
When beginning any project make sure you take ownership of your work by placing proper credentials. Include your name and contact information so that your work can be traced back to you, and copyright information which includes year of creation and the name of the owner of the work.
The Title: Give your project a name
The title of your project should be something that is memorable, catchy and tells us something about the story. This project is called, The Rogue's Disciple- simple and to the point.
The Logline: What is your story about?
The logline (sometimes written as log line or one liner) is one of the most challenging parts of the synopsis process but is also one of the most crucial. Before diving deep into your projects you will want to make sure you know what your story is about and be able to clearly explain it to anyone (yourself included) in one sentence. The more you focus on creating a good one liner of your story in the beginning, the more frustrations you will save yourself later. Think of it as the compass for your story.
When structuring your sentence try to include irony to make the story more interesting. For The Rogue's Disciple I have come up with two log lines to help me clarify the story. The constant in both is that its a story about a former fighter who seeks a life away from violence but ends up having to deal with the very thing he is trying to get away from. Before getting too far into the graphic novel I'll go back and edit both loglines to create a final one.
The Pitch: The gist of the story.
The pitch is when you elaborate on the Logline. Make it a brief summary (Between a couple of sentences to no more than two paragraphs) of the story similar to what you would read on the back of a book cover or Netflix preview. You may want to mention the main characters, what happens to them and where it takes place. Make it compelling and think about the audience who may find this interesting.
Above, for The Rogue's Disciple, I have jotted 2 pitch drafts. In each draft I explain how this story is about a character named Domino Dominguez who is a barber that used to be a fighter and moves to a small town to settle down and start a new tranquil life. Domino finds trouble from local gym owner Carne Fuerte who wants to give him a hard time.
The Characters:Who is the story about?
When creating your cast of characters you need to define their role (protagonist, antagonist, supporting character), give them a name and a bio of who they are. Make them as believable as possible, give them motives, a backstory and distinguishable traits to personify. Pull from your life, your experiences, and people you've known to make the cast realistic to you and in turn engaging and interesting to others.
Its a good idea to draw from classic archetypes and tropes and to give your characters contrasting character traits- something that they struggle with in the story. For example Domino is violent by nature being a trained human killing machine and now struggles to become a pacifist.
The Summary: Describe the story arc
The last part of the synopsis is the summary. A complete survey useful for outlining the beats of the story, proposing your story to publishers and knowing what happens at macro level of the story. You need to highlight important events, how the story starts, ends and what happens in-between.
For The Rogue's Disciple I have made notes of these major events so that when it comes to scripting I can organize my pages accordingly. As a creator you will want to understand the pace of the story and be able to prioritize sequences of events effectively.
Synopsis is done. Now what?
After completing the synopsis I visualize possible cover ideas (More tips on creating covers in another segment!). Think about a compelling image(s) that will sell the comic to your audience.
When I feel confident and satisfied with the content of the synopsis I begin scripting. This includes the pages, panels, plots, thumbnails, etc.
Working through the creative process of making a synopsis can be grueling but it tests your grit. The world is not in short supply of ideas but if you have a story to tell it's best to make it as impactful and meaningful as possible so that it stands the test of time and is worth your best efforts. Below I have included a template you can download free to work on your own.
I hope this article helps you on your journey to impact the world with your marvelous ideas. Start your comic today with the Comic Draw app.
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