Ever get lost in your own story, unsure of where it’s supposed to go next? You’re not alone. Even famous authors like Jane Yolen, author of The Devil’s Arithmetic and more than 300 (yes, 300) other books gets stuck sometimes. And sometimes, even famous authors need a little help getting unstuck.
In the following comic, Jane explains how her illustrator collaborator, Mike Cavallaro, got her out of a narrative jam with some well-timed advice. The images are all from Jane and Mike’s new graphic novel, Curses, Foiled Again—but with a brand-new story, just for Figment readers!
When I was asked to write a piece on writing my new graphic novel, Curses, Foiled Again, I decided that just doing an essay would be boring—to me and to my readers. So I decided to take several pages of the book, using Mike Cavallaro’s wonderful pictures, and use them to lead me through some of my thoughts on plot. A graphic novel that has a writer and an illustrator (instead of one person doing both) is a very organic and cooperative venture, and that’s what this piece is about.
The pictures below are of from a series of scenes in Curses that take place in a troll dungeon underneath Grand Central Station and the subway system. In the real world, my publisher, First/Second, is in the famous Flatiron building in Manhattan. Getting into the building is like getting into the White House—a visitor has to show credentials, have a photo taken, and someone in the company has to be called to vouch for him or her. It can take quite a bit of time.
Of course, the conversations with Mike Cavallaro didn’t go quite that way; after all, he’s not green, we weren’t in a dungeon, and my flash drive is . . . considerably smaller than that magic foil. But he did help me with pacing, which led to better plotting. After all, Foiled, which is the book before this one, was my first-ever graphic novel, though I’d already published many novels for middle grades, teens, and adults.
As a note, if Picture Boy had been allowed to finish his sentence, he would have said: “There are two kinds of writers—the ones who figure out a plot ahead of time before writing, and the ones who set their characters in motion and then run after them saying, “Hey. . .wait for me.” Guess which kind I am.
— Your book friend,