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Martha Sperry has never written a graphic novel, but she has illustrated quite a few, and she is working with a writer right now to create Dawn Patrol, a graphic novel about the Battle of Britain. So when she explains the process of writing graphic novels, as she did recently for Beyond the Margins, it is from the perspective of someone who has worked with a number of writers, as opposed to “This is how I do it.” Her post is a good first look at the process, and she emphasizes the importance of collaboration, so that the finished work is not an illustrated book but truly a story told in pictures:
In my mind, the biggest challenge for a writer working with an illustrator is trusting the illustrator to help refine the visuals to better communicate the story. I perceive the greatest difference between writing a traditional novel and a graphic novel is learning how to exercise the skill required to “think in pictures.” The writer has at least as much responsibility for framing the images as the illustrator, and that means envisioning and examining the images to ensure that they tell the story the writer intends to tell. A writer who can move easily between the words and the images has already planted the seeds for a great graphic novel.