Creating an Idea

The word “manga,” when translated, roughly means “whimsical drawings.” When you think about it, that’s just another way of trying to express the foggy idea that pops up in our heads when dealing with “comics.”  I could go on for several blog posts about why this is so, and what exactly is so unique about comics as an art, but that’s best left in the hands of Scott McCloud, and his three works Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics, all of which I highly recommend.  As much as this project is about understanding comics as a distinct art, it is about developing this understanding through the art, rather than trying to force it into words.  So, without further ado, I got cracking on the project.

Idea creation from scratch is often a daunting process.  If you’re not already in the middle of a creative streak, getting there can be all but impossible.  So, when Mark and I agreed to attempt the process of creating a manga together, I didn’t sit down to write anywhere, I picked up my notebook and went about my business.  That way, instead of beginning out in the cold with a collection of forced and useless ideas, I was able to collect my thoughts scattered throughout the week into a couple pages in my notebook and look back on several viable plot summaries that almost created themselves from my pile of ideas.  A collaboration can take many forms, but I wanted this to be a shared process from start to finish, so I consulted Mark with my list of micro-plot summaries, and we were able to imagine some characters that lived in these plots and worlds, how they looked and acted, and why they did what they did.  If there was one belief that led my creativity in this project, it was that characters and settings grow together and work together; we are only spectating.  How successful was I in the implementation? Well, time and rough drafts shall tell.


  1. claudiaheaney says:

    That’s kind of funny, that “manga” means “whimsical drawings” when the word’s become associated with such a particular kind of drawing and manga’s become so mainstream. By the sound of it, you have a really interesting approach to coming up with the content for this manga, how you came up with your plot ideas before you came up with your characters. I can’t imagine writing a story before knowing who the characters are, since I think plots are typically character-driven. It is a good point that characters and settings grow and work together. I think it’s the fact that characters, plot, setting, and other elements of a story build on and change each other simultaneously that makes creative writing so difficult. But hey, I guess the same can be said for real life. Little philosophical nugget right there. Anyway, back to your character development – how are you going about creating your characters? What part of them do you try to develop first? Physical appearance? Personality traits? Background history? Likes and dislikes? I remember reading a quote a while ago by some author whose name I don’t remember – it was something along the lines of, when you can have a conversation in your head with the characters you’ve invented, and you don’t have to try to make them talk, you know they’re good characters. How true have you found that to be? Or are you not at that point yet?

  2. Every time I read about this project I get more excited. I love your idea creation process. It’s so important to be able to take a step back and not have to think about thinking up an idea. It’s the same with music! I’ll remember your notebook strategy the next time I have writer’s block. Hard to imagine anything more interesting than a notebook full of Skyler ideas!

  3. nateheeter says:

    I really like your idea creation strategy! It’s so hard to force yourself to generate ideas on the spot, and I know that I come up with so many ideas throughout the day but ultimately forget them. I’ve seen your notebook and I know you get a lot of use out of it. Can’t wait to see your final product!