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Featured Online Writing Workshop

Melanie Faith

Fundamentals of Graphic Novel Creation by Melanie Faith

START DATE: Friday, October 30, 2020

END DATE: Friday, November 27, 2020

DURATION: 4 weeks

LOCATION:  Private Facebook group and email

FEEDBACK:  Instructor feedback and critique on all assignments

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Marjane Satrapi, author of the graphic novel series Persepolis, has said: “Graphic novels are not traditional literature, but that does not mean they are second-rate. Images are a way of writing. When you have the talent to be able to write and to draw, it seems a shame to choose one. I think it’s better to do both.” This class will explore the joys of crafting both verbal and pictorial elements to start your own graphic novel as well as tips for 6-pagers and online comics. While we’ll begin doodling our introductory visions for our characters, no previous drawing classes or artistic skills required (you should see how I rock a stick-figure, and keep in mind that some graphic novelists team up with visual artists for their books).

Students will need copies of The Art of the Graphic Memoir by Tom Hart (St. Martin’s Griffin 2018) and You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Comic Books, Webcomics, and Strips by Barbara Slate (Minsky 2018). Both books are available online at Amazon and at other booksellers. Also, students will pick a graphic novel of their choice to read or reread to study elements of graphic-novel craft that can be applied to their own work.

We’ll explore and create the groundwork for creating a memorable protagonist and a cast of other characters, setting, plots, and more that you can continue to develop well beyond the course. Topics covered will include: Gathering Material, Character Bible, Story Arc Elements, Finding a Visual Style, Visual Language, Art, Writing, Layout, The Saboteurs, The Creative Block, and The Biz.

There will be a private Facebook group for students to discuss our creative process and sharing of writing and graphic-novel resources, such as markets and quotations. Students will also complete a weekly writing assignment for instructor feedback.

I highly recommend the writing courses offered by Melanie Faith. She is one of the most engaging instructors I’ve ever worked with—her passion for her craft, and for nurturing other writers, is evident from the very first contact, and she maintains that level of energy and engagement throughout the course. Her feedback is superb; her praise is specific and helps validate the choices I make with my writing, and her suggestions for improvement are gentle and equally specific. Either way, her suggestions and comments always make my work stronger, and increase my confidence that perhaps I do have something to say after all. If you have a chance to take one of Melanie's courses, by all means do it! I'll be back for another one as soon as I can. ~ Karen V, North Carolina

Melanie has always shown great insight into my work. Often times, she is able to pull out deeper meanings, that even I wasn't consciously aware of while writing. Her constructive criticism has moved my writing into new directions. I find that I feel more confident and prepared as a writer by having her constant editing eye. I respect that she critiques my poetry honestly, letting me know areas that are weak as well as strong points. I wouldn't be able to grow as a writer if she always told me my poems were great. It's from her perspective of my work that I grow. I enjoy learning through her and appreciate her sharing tricks of the trade that she learned in her masters program. I'm thankful to know Melanie and hope we remain friends and a poetry support system for the rest of our lives. She's the type of person and writer that anyone would feel lucky to know. She is a great mentor and holds a wealth of knowledge in the written language. Her achievements and constant pursuit as a writer inspire so many. Her determination and skill will go very far and I suspect she'll leave a lasting imprint in the written world. She already has. ~ Courtney Burger

I have taken three courses from Melanie and in each course I grow tremendously as a writer. The texts she uses as well as the handouts and daily writing prompts all contribute to what she refers to as “the writing life” and in her courses that’s exactly what it becomes. Her comments on the pieces go way beyond grammar and punctuation. She delves into the content and clarifies what is good and what can be adjusted to make the piece stronger. I can tell she spends time reading what I write and is prompt in returning the assignments so I always have plenty of time for revision. She treats me, and everyone in the class, like a writer. Her classes are a joy. If there is a course offered by Melanie and I can fit it in, I always take it. ~ Holly Helscher

I decided to try Melanie Faith’s WOW! poetry class because writing and creating in different genres helps my writing. I am so glad I did! Melanie is upbeat, inspiring, supportive, professional and an incredible instructor and writer. Now I see poetry as always being a part of my life. I don’t know how she does it with all the demands on her professional and writing life, but Melanie makes you feel like you are her only student. Her comments are always on point and she strikes the right balance of teacher and colleague. Months after the class has ended she continues to answer questions and cheer on us budding poets. She has an amazing and giving spirit. I will take another writing class from Melanie, no matter what the subject. She has so much to offer on so many different levels! ~ Kate Bradley-Ferrall

I have to rein myself in every time I see in the WOW classes list that Melanie is teaching another essay class. And why is this? In all of my education (B.A. in English and M.A. in English), I never took a writing class. When I was in college, writing was taught only in Freshman English; after that class, we were just expected to know how to write. I learned to teach writing myself by reading books about writing. How refreshing and educational to find a teacher/mentor who exhibits the characteristics that I know an excellent writing teacher has: the creativity to come up with topics that students want to write about, the ability to critique without finding fault, the desire to encourage students to keep on writing even when the juices aren’t flowing. Believe me . . . she’s an excellent teacher. In addition, she became my friend through being my teacher. To be a friend AND a teacher takes real talent. ~ Sandy Young

WEEKS AT A GLANCE:

Duration: (4 weeks) Friday, October 30, 2020 - Friday, November 27, 2020

Friday, November 6, 13, 20, and 27, 2020: student assignments due to instructor for constructive feedback at writer[at]pa.net.

Week One: Getting Started, Why Comics?, Gathering Material, Character Bible, Story Arc Elements

Reading assignment:

  • From The Art of the Graphic Memoir: pages 8 - 39
  • From You Can Do a Graphic Novel: chapters 1 -2, pages 16-35

Assignment from The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Pick a graphic novel of your choice and read/reread at least half of it. As you read, take notes on what you observe and what you like/dislike about the author’s style. Elements might include: line drawing, lettering, pacing, characterization, the protagonist or antagonist, etc.

Part Two: Write a short paragraph and/or list on the theme of: “Why Comics?”

Part Three: Page 37. Choose one organizing category and make a list of your ideas so far.

Assignment from You Can Do a Graphic Novel: Study “Draw Your Character” and “Character bible” (pages 20-21) and begin to write and/or draw initial concepts for your protagonist or antagonist (note: you don’t have to have the characters fleshed out yet—this is just a sketching opportunity for possible characters to come through). Feel free to attach a phone photo of any drawings and/or a file of writing/notes about your character(s).

Week Two: Organizing Material, Finding a Visual Style, Starting, the Six-Pager, Creating Characters

Reading assignment:

  • From The Art of the Graphic Memoir: pages 40 - 86
  • From You Can Do a Graphic Novel: chapter 3 pages 36-59 and chapter 5, pages 80 - 95

Assignment from The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Continue reading your chosen graphic novel, taking notes on how your author organizes their story and their visual style. Notes could include:
*How many panels per page?
*Heavy or light inking?
*What does the protagonist appear to be learning through trial and error?

Part Two - OPTIONAL: (You’ll need index cards or sticky notes for this assignment). Revisit your Week #1 list of ideas (from the page 37 exercise) and complete the exercise on page 53, listing at one idea per index card, so you can move them around easily You may take photos of the various ways you organize your ideas OR just keep this assignment for your own idea-making process and not submit it for feedback.

Part Three: Exercise on page 69; pick one of the three “Look” exercises at the top of the page.

Assignment from You Can Do a Graphic Novel: Study your initial writing and/or sketches of the “Draw Your Character” and “Character bible” (pages 20-21) that you worked on last week. We’re revisiting this exercise, either revising our concepts from last week or adding a new character or characters. Feel free to attach updated phone photos of any drawings and/or a file of writing/notes about your character(s).

Week Three: Going Deeper—Storytelling Strategies, Visual Language, Art, Writing, Layout, Plot

Reading assignment:

  • From The Art of the Graphic Memoir: pages 87 - 123
  • From You Can Do a Graphic Novel: chapters 6 -9, pages 96 - 149

Assignment from The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Continue reading your chosen graphic novel. Include new notes on any visual symbols/imagery or recurring motifs you notice in the book.

Part Two: Page 101: Dramatis Personae exercise (bottom of page); list of the cast of characters you have so far. Feel free to keep this list and add to (or subtract from) it during and after our class.

Part Three: Sketch an object that will have meaning for your character’s story. This object will likely recur in your story in multiple scenes and/or panels.

Assignment from You Can Do a Graphic Novel: Begin to plot: either try the step #1 index card of plot points on page 140 or use the synopsis format example as a template on pages 116-117 or the script example as a template on pages 152-155. You might not know your entire plot yet, which is fine, so feel free to develop a very simple premise (on an index card or one page) and to flesh it out as you go.

Week Four: Change Your Life, Creative Tips, The Saboteurs, The Creative Block, The Biz

Reading assignment:

  • From The Art of the Graphic Memoir: pages 124 - 174
  • From You Can Do a Graphic Novel: chapter 4, pages 62 - 79, chapter 10 - 14, pages 152 - 220

Assignment from The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Finish your chosen graphic novel. Make any final notes about what you’d like to emulate and what might be different in your own work. Also, note what you noticed about the main conflict and conclusion. How did the author demonstrate a resolution to the story, whether visually or verbally?

Part Two: Page 135: answer two questions and fill in four statements about “The What and the Why.”

Part Three: Revisit one of your earlier week’s exercises (such as the list of characters, the character bible, or last week's plotting exercise) to refine and/or add to it or try it again.

Assignment from You Can Do a Graphic Novel - OPTIONAL: (You’ll need index cards or sticky notes for this assignment.) Try steps 5-7 on pages 143-147 of the plotting exercise from last week.

Materials needed: Students will need a copy of: The Art of the Graphic Memoir by Tom Hart (St. Martin’s Griffin 2018) and You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Comic Books, Webcomics, and Strips by Barbara Slate (Minsky 2018). Both books are available online at Amazon and at other booksellers.

A pack of index cards or small sticky notes/Post-Its (for Optional Week #2 exercise and Optional Week #4 exercise)

Also, students will select a graphic novel of their own choice to read/reread as part of the weekly assignments that analyze elements of craft. You may use a graphic novel you already own if you’d like.

In case you’d like some ideas, here are a few suggested graphic novels I’ve enjoyed recently:

  • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney
  • A Game for Swallows: to Die, to Leave, to Return by Zeina Abirached
  • French Milk; Relish: My Life in the Kitchen; Something New; An Age of License; and Kid Gloves - all by Lucy Knisley
  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
  • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
  • American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • July Diary by Gabrielle Bell
  • Josephine Baker by Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller
  • Blankets by Craig Thompson
  • Catherine’s War by Julia Billet and Claire Fauvel
  • Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Pena

A few more awesome options:

  • Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
  • Louis Armstrong (Graphic Biographies) by Kerri O’hern ad Gini Holland, et al.
  • Audubon, on the Wings of the World by Fabien Grolleau, Jeemie Royer, et al.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World by Ryan Jacobson, Gordon Purcell, et al.
  • Strange Fruit, Volume 1: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill
  • Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
  • Lost in Guyville by Marie D’Abreo
  • RX by Rachel Lindsay

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Melanie Faith holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, NC. Her writing has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. Her full-length, historical poetry collection set in the 1918 flu epidemic, This Passing Fever, was published by Future Cycle Press in October 2017. Vine Leaves Press published her craft books about writing and editing flash fiction and nonfiction and her craft book about writing poetry (both 2018). In December 2019, her craft book, Photography for Writers, was also published by Vine Leaves Press. Most recently, her shorter pieces appeared in After the Pause, Contemporary Haibun Online, The Sandy River Review, The Writer’s Monthly Review Magazine, and Embodied Effigies. Her flash fiction, “The Slades,” placed honorable mention in the 2014 Bevel Summers Prize for the Short Short Story and was published in Shenandoah (Washington and Lee University). In addition to numerous photography publications, her art made the cover of both OVS Magazine and Chantwood Review in 2017. Her instructional articles about creative writing techniques have appeared in The Writer and Writers’ Journal, among others. To learn more about Melanie’s writing, teaching, and photography, please visit: www.melaniedfaith.com/blog/.

COST:  $155, which includes e-mail critique and positive feedback on student writing, and access to a private group for student interactions.

BUY NOW:  Fundamentals of Graphic Novel Creation for Writers by Melanie Faith (4 weeks, starting 10/30/2020) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is now closed. Please check here for our current schedule.

Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. She will contact you via email so you can get started.

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Additional Testimonials for Melanie Faith:

I took the nature writing class a few weeks ago and it was one of the best courses I've even taken. Melanie Faith is an excellent instructor. ~ Jean Forsythe

Your course has jump-started me back into writing. I have missed it. Thank you. ~ Melissa Healy

Melanie knows how to offer on-the-mark suggestions for writing improvement while also being extremely encouraging (and a joy to work with). I've taken many classes with her, including the flash class, and I plan on taking many more. ~ Marilyn Fahey

Melanie has been a total joy as a teacher and guide. I found her feedback, critiques, and comments to be extraordinarily helpful and insightful. And the daily prompts and positive reinforcement made this writing class a wonderful experience! ~ Mary Purdy

Melanie’s class taught me economy of words by using strong verbs and nouns, implying and showing rather than telling, and exploring topics outside of my comfort zone. Her feedback is prompt, detailed and constructive. ~ Rajni Gupta

The course was great. I did not want it to end. I have taken several college level creative writing courses, as well as, attended many writer’s workshops, but I have enjoyed this course the most. I really appreciated that Melanie would also critique our re-writes which was very, very helpful. This course has really helped to motivate me creatively. ~ Barb Cramer

Melanie has always shown great insight into my work. Often times, she is able to pull out deeper meanings, that even I wasn't consciously aware of while writing. Her constructive criticism has moved my writing into new directions. I find that I feel more confident and prepared as a writer by having her constant editing eye. I respect that she critiques my poetry honestly, letting me know areas that are weak as well as strong points. I wouldn't be able to grow as a writer if she always told me my poems were great. It's from her perspective of my work that I grow. I enjoy learning through her and appreciate her sharing tricks of the trade that she learned in her masters program.

I'm thankful to know Melanie and hope we remain friends and a poetry support system for the rest of our lives. She's the type of person and writer that anyone would feel lucky to know. She is a great mentor and holds a wealth of knowledge in the written language. Her achievements and constant pursuit as a writer inspire so many. Her determination and skill will go very far and I suspect she’ll leave a lasting imprint in the written world. She already has. ~ Courtney Burger

The course was great. I did not want it to end. I have taken several college level creative writing courses, as well as, attended many writer’s workshops, but I have enjoyed this course the most. I really appreciated that Melanie would also critique our re-writes which was very, very helpful. This course has really helped to motivate me creatively. ~ Barb Cramer

Melanie demonstrates particular qualities in a writing teacher/coach that I would recommend for anyone looking for focused attention to help move their writing forward.

I had not taken an on-line course previously, and didn't know what to expect, but Melanie melted the distance, was always accessible, and never missed a beat with out on-line communication. I always felt like I had Melanie right here around my writing table, or knocking on my door saying—“I had a few thoughts..." She provided a wealth of resources and provided us with course materials that were tuned to our course level.

Her insight into my work, in terms of critique, were extremely thoughtful, thorough, and eye-opening. I feel that working with Melanie has allowed me to be braver with my writing and editing—as she was supportive of experimentation and taking chances with style, vocabulary, and theme. She provides serious critique in an atmosphere that, well, just makes me want to keep on writing!” ~ Mary Ellen Sanger

I have taken three courses from Melanie and in each course I grow tremendously as a writer. The texts she uses as well as the handouts and daily writing prompts all contribute to what she refers to as “the writing life” and in her courses that’s exactly what it becomes. Her comments on the pieces go way beyond grammar and punctuation. She delves into the content and clarifies what is good and what can be adjusted to make the piece stronger. I can tell she spends time reading what I write and is prompt in returning the assignments so I always have plenty of time for revision. She treats me, and everyone in the class, like a writer. Her classes are a joy. If there is a course offered by Melanie and I can fit it in, I always take it. ~ Holly Helscher

I have the normal anxiousness of sharing my work while so excited to have Melanie Faith’s critical eye read my writing. It is always reviewed with an eye to improvement and an eye to the thoughts the words contain. This is the first computer class I have ever taken and want to take many more. I also look forward to many more classes with Melanie Faith. ~ Benita Cervantes

Because I love memoir writing, I have taken two memoir/personal essay classes from Melanie. I can’t believe this, but because I enjoy the teacher herself and her method of teaching so much, I’ve even taken a poetry-writing class. I’ve always steered away from writing poetry of any kind ever since I wrote a poem in college (an assignment, not a by-choice piece) and the class laughed because I wrote about a controversial topic and was so naïve that I didn’t even know it was controversial. Every time I’d mention to Melanie that I’d never write a poem, she’d encourage me to take her class, assuring me that I’d be successful. I took the class, and sure enough, I was successful, thanks to Melanie’s velvet critiquing, encouraging comments, and thoughtful suggestions, many times seeing in my writing what I couldn’t see for myself.

I have to rein myself in every time I see in the WOW classes list that Melanie is teaching another essay class. And why is this? In all of my education (B.A. in English and M.A. in English), I never took a writing class. When I was in college, writing was taught only in Freshman English; after that class, we were just expected to know how to write. I learned to teach writing myself by reading books about writing. How refreshing and educational to find a teacher/mentor who exhibits the characteristics that I know an excellent writing teacher has: the creativity to come up with topics that students want to write about, the ability to critique without finding fault, the desire to encourage students to keep on writing even when the juices aren’t flowing. Believe me . . . she’s an excellent teacher. In addition, she became my friend through being my teacher. To be a friend AND a teacher takes real talent. ~ Sandy Young

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Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:
classroom[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com


 

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