When words get in the way

The Queen Mary (the original)

June has arrived and I’ve just started the first day of my vacation. The husband and I are checking into the Queen Mary Hotel tomorrow for a thrilling stationary weekend voyage in Long Beach Harbor. Ghost hunting will definitely be on the agenda as well as dining and grand buffets. However, I’ll be spending much of the time working on lettering our graphic novel. It’s been the primary project we’ve been working on for the past few years-alongside the prose novel, Fatizen 24602.

For those of you who don’t know, my artist husband, Mason Arrigo, wanted to turn my book into a graphic novel. And so he has been working on it full-time for the past several years. We have been blessed to find two colorists, Sean Lake and Chris Link, to take Mason’s illustrations and turn them into some pretty fantastic colored pages.

Delilah meets the Serena 900 hologram in Fatizen-The Graphic Novel. Illustration by Mason Arrigo, coloring by Chris Link.

I’ve become more adept with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop over the past few years-skills I never anticipated I’d require or need. But this process has fulfilled that graphic artist part of myself that I’ve not explored in a long time. It’s been a lot of work, but enjoyably so.

Learning how to create a graphic novel from a prose novel has been an education, and not something to take lightly. The task of adaptation is tough-not every word, thought or action is going to make it in the final product. I suppose it’s not unlike a screenplay adaptation, but that’s just an educated guess. The final choices come down to what pushes the story forward, what’s fluff, and what is absolutely essential. A lot of the dialogue has to be edited down to the bare essentials. All while I’m screaming on the inside.

Delilah escapes the Dietary Guard Patrol in Fatizen-The Graphic Novel. Illustration by Mason Arrigo, coloring by Sean Lake.

As we approach completion of the first of three books (the graphic novel is broken into three different sections), I’m reviewing all of our finished pages. It’s been a lot of work, and there is much to check. Selecting and placing the word balloons on the page is one my tasks, and it’s only now that I realize how this process has been good for my writing.

Each day is spent reviewing my original manuscript to select the words for the pages. I I have to admit that some days I’ve felt a bit ‘stuck’ in this world I created. As much as I love my characters, sometimes parents need a break from their children, right? But in this review process, I’ve learned that I could have edited my original manuscript down. Significantly. I suppose as writers, we all look at our work and we can continually revise our words without end. Some of us may be more inclined towards the poetic while others naturally lean towards the verbose.

Delilah’s arrest in Fatizen-The Graphic Novel. Illustration by Mason Arrigo, coloring by Chris Link.

I suppose it’s odd for a writer to say that the words got in the way of telling a story. So I won’t say it, or even suggest that was an issue for me. But I love that even in the process of working on this amazing project, I’ve added to my writerly toolbox. Any project that builds your skill set is worthwhile, especially when it comes to telling your own story. And getting to work on a project with some talented graphic artists (friends and my own husband) is certainly time well spent.

Next up-to find an agent who works with graphic novels. But for now, full steam ahead-and bon voyage to us!

Keep on writing!

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