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Esther Krogdahl: I felt I had everything I needed with the most treasured item being, time

I heard about the KSP fellowship through a former fellow, who is a member of my writing group.

I immediately looked up the website and then applied, and I’m so glad that I did. The project that I pitched was, to take the YA fantasy novel chapters that I’d written in first-person POV and turn them into a YA graphic novel script. My aim was to complete a first draft by the end of the two weeks, but early in the fellowship it became clear that that was an extremely lofty goal. Writing in script format is much more time consuming than writing a novel. Each panel requires me to describe the scene and then write the dialogue, character by character. This means more formatting and additional thought about how characters and their environment should look including facial expressions and body positions.

I started by storyboarding the key plot points and the lore of the world that I was creating. This helped immensely as it was easy to trip over lore before I’d written it all down. I was extremely pleased with my output, hitting 80 pages and over 11,000 words. I feel this is the halfway mark for my first draft. I was so lucky to have a fellow fellow read my work and give me some excellent feedback. I really connected with her and we met daily for a coffee and a chat. It was wonderful hearing about her writing experiences and I feel like I made a new dear friend!

The environment at the KSP Writers' Centre was so conducive to writing freely and without distraction. I felt I had everything I needed in my cabin with the most treasured item being, time. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved during the two weeks and I have plans to continue working on this project until it is complete. I believe having the KSP fellowship on my resume will open doors when I’m ready to submit the full work. I’m grateful for the opportunity and will forever remember my time at KSP.

Top Ten Tips

These are my top ten tips for writing a graphic novel.

1. Jot down character motivations during each act of your story - these will change throughout so update them as you go. Motivations will impact your character’s actions and dialogue.

2. Record the protagonist’s key personality attributes - this helps to craft realistic and consistent tone of voice and behaviour in the story.

3. If your story world has rules or lore, define them up front and write them down. This helps you to navigate this lore and make sure impossible things aren’t happening in your story.

4. Space out explanations of lore / the back story. Don’t have your character spend three pages monologuing about the current situation.

5. If you get stuck, put a pin in it and keep going. Return to it later.

6. Be realistic with your writing goals. If you don’t you’ll feel disappointed instead of proud

7. Start with action. Pull your reader in from page one.

8. Learn how to format on day one. Stick to it - don’t change the way you format mid-manuscript.

9. Get reviewers and readers to give you feedback.

10. Leave something to the reader’s imagination. Not everything needs to be explained.

Esther Krogdahl, KSP Fellow - August 2023


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