The engaging words and images mix of graphic novels (long-form narratives in the style of comic books) has enabled creative storytellers to craft compelling stories. Academic and critical respect has followed for what was once identified as an inferior reading genre.
The internet age and the reduced free time people have today have boosted the popularity of this more visual and effective method of storytelling for young and adult readers alike.
Popularized in the ’70s, graphic novels have expanded the boundaries of comic book writing. The boldness that comes naturally to this more accessible medium has encouraged writers to be revolutionizers. Graphic novel series are highly conducive to the digital format that young and adult time-challenged readers prefer.
However, the process involved in creating the novel is harder and slower for authors. It’s also less immersive than prose because of the drawing and design work that’s required.
A Powerful Tool for Creative Minds
Graphic novel writers have accepted the advantages of using this medium to boldly engage readers. Writers have used its freedom and accessibility to address important themes, tell personal stories, and take on taboos.
The range of themes in this storytelling medium is no less restricted than traditional literature. The variety of themes is illustrated in the adolescent pains addressed in “Ghost World,” the politics of “V for Vendetta,” the personal stories of immigrants in “Persepolis” and “The Best We Could Do,” and Nazi occupation as told by “Maus.” Popular graphic novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, led to film, TV, and theater adaptations, and raised the graphic art of comic book storytelling.
These visual stories pack a punch that is powerful and effective in a way that word-centric texts cannot be. As a result, educators have used graphic novels as teaching materials. In fact, the Vietnamese author of “The Best We Could Do,” Thi Bui, was a teacher before she became a novelist. The format is also conducive to narration that alternates in time and space (the fourth dimension artfully utilized by Alan Moore) and the present and the past as reflected in Bui’s novel.
Energizing Literature with Originality
Chris Ware’s “Building Stories” is being compared to “Ulysses” by James Joyce. His earlier book, “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth” won a literary award competing with traditional novels and was praised for its “originality and energy.” Claire Armitstead, chairperson of the judges who awarded the First Book Award to Ware’s book, described what the best graphic novels have accomplished. She said they challenge “us to think again about what literature is and where it is going at the start of the 21st century.”
Have you done something in your life that few others have, or perhaps something your friends and family only wish they had? Have you had a life experience that has fundamentally changed the way you look at things or the way you act or live? If so, you should consider putting your experiences in writing by way of a memoir. Even if you consider yourself a “nobody,” something about you may inspire others, and that is a message worth sharing.
The most important thing to remember is that although you may hear the terms “memoir” and “autobiography” used interchangeably, there is a marked difference between these two types of manuscripts. An autobiography is denoted by the time frame it covers, usually a chronological account of a life from birth to present day. A memoir, on the other hand, focuses on an event or series of events in a person’s life that stands out and warrants its own full-length explanation and exploration.
Be Ready to Commit to your Project
Once you decide to start writing your memoir, commit adequate time to completing it. No polished book happens overnight, so be prepared to devote serious time to your project. Scraping together a few minutes a day will not do. Ideally, look for a minimum of two to three hours per day you can block out on your calendar so you can write with a sense of purpose. Save extra time if possible for those related memories that crop up and demand to be a part of your story.
Along with committing time to your writing, consider the space in which you write. Some people may write better on a beach with a notebook and pen while others may prefer a quiet office setting. You are your own boss when writing your memoir, so seek out the environment where you are most productive. In the end, if your writing space is uncomfortable and full of distractions, your writing will be, too.
Stepping Stones to Keep You Going
Take a look online, at a book store, or in a library at the memoirs of others (they are usually found under the autobiography section). Thumbing through a few, do any characteristics stand out to you? Maybe they are written with a sense of humor or an adventurous voice. Some come across as unapologetic, while others are inspiring. Take those aspects that grip you, and incorporate them into your personal storytelling style.
Speak with others: friends, family, even perfect strangers, to see if they are interested in your story. If they are and would like to know more, chances are you have a memoir worth writing well. Whether you have done interesting volunteer work, spent a month in another country, or experienced a traumatic event, it will make fantastic writing material which you only have to pour out onto paper. Your story is your own but you can share it with the world.