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October 13, 2011

On Writing Orcs

from the desk of author Stan Nicholls


How do you roll a bunch of dreams into one?  Easy.  You’re offered the chance to pen a graphic novel after a life-long love affair with comicbooks.  You get to see fictional characters you’ve created come alive as illustrations on the page.  Better yet, you have the privilege of working with a gifted artist and a first-rate editorial team. 

As if that wasn’t enough, you’re handed a bonus -- learning. 

There’s a certain mechanism involved in novel-writing, whereby the different elements -- plot, structure, pace, characterisation, dialogue, etc -- are entwined to form a coherent whole.  There’s a process in the creation of graphic novels too, of course, and much of it’s the same as in a prose novel.  But there are crucial differences.  An obvious factor is achieving the correct balance between pictures and words, with an emphasis on the former because this is, after all, a predominantly visual medium.  (Many people liken it to the movies, which is a reasonable comparison as far as it goes.)  You come to realise that captions, if you must have them at all, are superfluous unless they tell you something the panel doesn’t.  You see the wisdom in not overloading dialogue balloons; how a narrative sequences can flow better when unhampered by wordy explanations; and the power of colour.  (Sometimes, the power of the absence of colour.) 

So I’m doubly grateful for this experience -- for having my series of novels branch out into another medium in Orcs: Forged For War, and for the lessons the project taught me, thanks to the sensibility of Joe Flood’s adaptation.

Much as this author might hate to admit it, in the context of graphic novels a picture is worth a thousand words. 



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