View Full Version : Manga tips for a good writer

05-27-2012, 12:16 AM
First of all this is my first thread, my name is Khalil Withrow or just call me O (the letter). The letter O is not actually signifigant and is just a letter i like the sound of, it also happens to be the name of one of the main characters in a manga im writing.

SO ive never written a manga but i want to try a diffrent writing style. Ive been reading a bunch of mangas to see the style and ive talked to ppl who read a lot of them. I got a few of them to help me out and im starting one.
So far I have no specific story because i write in steps
1. Setting: Ill think of the time and place then the cultures then id draw a crude map

2. Characters: Specificly there are 8 main characters with 3 of them being the main main characters (im not sure if thats confusing or not) but I go personality:weakness:strengths:alignment:powers) I tend not to think about what they look like until the end

3. Generall plot: I think of an antogonist (hard for mangas cause there could be many, though mine is just human problems) then what they do, then they're power (like do they have an army or are they a powerfull demon)

4. Then i get the characters refined, giving them each a history, personality, and relationship (this is easy for me because character developement never was hard though i tend to add remove and completely remake charactrs at this stage)

5. This is where i write the actual draft

Anyways i would like tips from people who write mangas as i tend to use this method for novels and short stories, i dont know if this is to much effort or not enough
If you would like to actually hear the plot of the story i can post it but since im on my ipad and typing is a pain, itll have to be later or only on request.

05-27-2012, 12:55 AM
First tip to do a Manga: Be Japanese.
Second tip to do a Manga: Live on Japan.
Third tip to do a Manga: Know perfect Japanese.

05-27-2012, 12:57 AM
I feel like thats perfectly wrong, thats like saying to be a rapper you have to be black, lived a bad life, and from America

05-27-2012, 12:59 AM
No, basically the whole definition of "Manga" comes from be part of the Japanese culture, at the point that you are Japanese, you live in Japan and you know by your personal experience the culture and reality. Outside of this, the term is useless and it's just "comic".

Also, do you have 3 main characters? Do you work like 3 main stories at the same time?

05-27-2012, 12:59 AM
What the fuck are you talking about just make a fucking comic jeez. You can't be a fucking Japanese rapper if you're American, but you can be an American rapper. Same thing as you can't be a Japanese comic book author if you're from America but you can be an American comic author.

EDIT: Aw Clock u ninja'd me

05-27-2012, 01:00 AM
Calm down.

05-27-2012, 01:02 AM
Ok, i guess i was using the term wrong. So manga isnt the type of art/writing style? (Sorry for looking like an idiot but I'm just a bit confused)

05-27-2012, 01:03 AM
I definately did not mean to offend though, did not think it was an angering question

05-27-2012, 01:03 AM
No, manga isn't a style. It can be manga-influenced but it cannot be manga.

05-27-2012, 01:06 AM
Ok, so can I get tips for writing a good manga influenced comic?

05-27-2012, 01:08 AM
Even manga-influece is kinda weird. The thing is that the "manga" doesn't have a defined style, and this has been proved countless of times by different mangakas. The thing is that the line that separate comic and manga is very thin, soo much that the only possible difference is the cultural one of the authors, and even this one can be crossed ones the authors separate their work from the cultural canon.

Now, this is not subject to kill you or something like that, but we tend to be kinda blunt about this with many new users, because this has been a subject for a long time ago, and most of the new users come from this only mono-vision on the comic industry where they have only been influenced by mangas, without knowing how extensive and deep the whole medium of comic books is.

My tips are:

-Set a basic goal or thesis for the story. A thesis is an idea you want to argument through the story and a goal can be provoke in a emotional level to the reader (there are many different goals).

-Set a main character, only one; there are stories that use more than one character, but if you are a first timer, use only one, it's really hard to place more than one main character in a cohesive story. Also to clarify main character: Harry Potter is the Protagonist, Ron and Hermione are Secondary characters. Secondary characters can be deep and complex, but that doesn't make them protagonists.

-Set moments that change the story, this can be by using the 12 steps of the hero or sydfield paradigm (use google), to get and idea on how to structure your story in a emotional, narrative and a productive level.

-Cause and Consequence, never become a mad god who just play with the characters, you just place the setting, the characters are the ones who made mistakes or success, and so, every event on the story must be through cause and consequence.

-Keep it simple, I know a lot of people want to do this big one epic story that is going to hook the audience forever, but trust me, neither of us have the experience, talent and time for that, so be realistic and keep it simple, do a short story with a meaning, and let those crazy epic adventures for ones you get the experience.

05-27-2012, 01:13 AM
So I'll need to basicly study Japanese culture first and get out of my general ignorance.
So heres another question why do books in libraries talk about how to make a manga (ive actually never read to much of those because I cant get to the library without a car)

05-27-2012, 01:17 AM
So I'll need to basicly study Japanese culture first and get out of my general ignorance.
So heres another question why do books in libraries talk about how to make a manga (ive actually never read to much of those because I cant get to the library without a car)

Because kids want to be mangakas, and so they are going to buy those books. It's just that the demand exist, so lets sell them that. To be honest i have some of those books, but only for technical things (drawing volumes and other stuffs), but at the end the old books and old comic books are way better teachers.

05-27-2012, 01:20 AM
Ok thanks for the advice, sorry for wasting your time with an admittedly ignorant question.

05-27-2012, 01:25 AM
Just do questions to people on the threads. There are a lot of people who can help you to develop a story and to develop your drawing skills. And I guess you didn't really had to know, that's why you did the question, so it's not something to bash yourself.

05-27-2012, 05:37 PM
@Owithrow - Don't worry I got shouted at about this subject a couple of months ago too when I started out (albeit on a different forum) :L

So I'll need to basicly study Japanese culture first and get out of my general ignorance.

@ClockHand - Out of curiosity what would be the advantages of studying the Japanese culture because although it can occasionally be hard to accept but people not from Japan aren't really going to be able to make '100% authentic manga' but we would end up making a westernized comic based on the manga artform*? Surely it would be worth more studying the western influences if we (hypothetically speaking) were to become comic book artists using a manga influence? (for example Mark Crilley)

I also just want to clarify that I am no way saying I don't want to or that it has no uses to the contrary I would love to be able to learn about Japanese culture and their language etc because its so interesting :D I just personally am struggling to think of practical reasons for people from UK/USA other than that Japan is the origins of manga so it would be right to study its culture if that makes sense? Also please excuse my ignorance i'm still trying to understand this whole idea :L

* Not sure if that is a good way to describe it but couldn't think of any other way :/ If I need to reword please let me know

05-27-2012, 06:36 PM
The only reason that I can come up with as a good idea to study any other culture is to just learn about it and understand it.
If you are going to study the Japanese and then make a comic where the setting is in Japan you are going to get called out as a poser so quick. It makes no sense to write about what it's like to be a person from somewhere you aren't from. If I wrote about being a prince from a European country in the present day it'd look ridiculous because it's different to learn about it and to know what it actually is.

If its for a story where it's all fantasy it'd be ok to have architectural influences and versions of customs and things like that but once you say "they are Japanese people of middle earth" (idk middle earth may be a bad example) its not beleivable anymore.

05-27-2012, 06:51 PM
First; fuck this shitty forum, I wrote this extremely long post just to get a "error" message from the forum, and now I have to write everything again.

Now with my rant clear I'm going to rewrite everything but I'm going to be more blunt and direct, as I don't have the energy or the disposition to write more than what its need.

Out of curiosity what would be the advantages of studying the Japanese

The advantage is knowing and having a reference, but it shouldn't be used to create definitive categories, stereotypes or others, it would be pretentious and dangerous. Just think in how a comic settled on USA writen by a non-usa person would be: everyone would be fat, lazy and reinforce all the stereotypes from good to bads, and obviously it wouldn't be a real mirror from the USA reality.

occasionally be hard to accept but people not from Japan aren't really going to be able to make '100%; authentic manga' but we would end up making a westernized comic based on the manga artform*?

Again, the concept of "manga artform" is really wide, most people think in Moe characters while many mangakas have proved, the contrary, that mangas can hold many art forms; even more I can go to the past of mangas, with Osamu Tezuka who had a great influence from Disney comics. And this idea of "manga artform" is just prove of what I said, as an outsider we are just going to pick stereotypical elements and we are just going to make the same thing that I wrote as an example for a outsider from the USA, writing about the USA culture. It would be pretentious and dangerous.

Surely it would be worth more studying the western influences if we (hypothetically speaking) were to become comic book artists using a manga influence? (for example Mark Crilley)

It worth as much for everyone. The history of comic books is very old and extensive, even if you pick Japan as your starting point to the past, you are going to find that their narrative developments are just the effects of the French influence, and the French comics are influenced by the Belgics comics and Latin American comics, and Latin American comics are influenced by Spanish and USA comics, and so on. This is why I don't make the distinction between mangas and comics, because they are the same product developed in a different culture that its being influenced by many others.

The thing is the misinformation from many western "wanna be mangakas" who have no idea of the real past of the medium (comics), its extensiveness and its depth. Many "kids" thing that Japan is heaven, and they are not interested in their own local comic history, this is bad, not just for now knowing the past, but also because it create a misguided idea of comic books today. This is why I tell people to be comic artist, to take the tools you have close and study the whole genre of comic books, mangas are just a small fraction of a bigger picture.

05-27-2012, 09:30 PM
Really quickly i would like to say that my story is not based in japan (also i think ive seen animes based in america) or america, theres really no culture from either since it is more futureistic

05-27-2012, 11:03 PM
For the manga discussion, I'm not saying its has to be based on japan to be a manga, its a reality, a conception of it that the author has and he does his work from that standing point. Now this problem can be very individualist as it can be applied to every different country comic, so it's not really a concern, but as manga is defined by specific element (which I found very irrelevant at the time of doing comic) it become a problem the saying "I'm going to do a fantasy manga" when you are not from the perspective of the defined category.

Now, if you want to do a scifi or fantasy or whatever the genre is, it doesn't mater knowing japanese or anything. The only thing that mater is knowing your shit right. Narrative theory, writing theory, structures, etc. That's actually the only thing that mater, whether you are japanese, USA guy or british. And so, any concern you have with that, we can help. And ya it would be better if we help you in that sense, rather that keep this discussion of manga and comic.

05-28-2012, 01:08 AM
Yeah i think i'll stick to my origionaL question. I think the manga comisc debate is a bit over me anyways, I'll refraim from calling it manga and call it an anime style comic

05-28-2012, 05:32 AM
@ClockHand - Thanks for replying and i'm sorry I made you rant :/ you have opened up what I need to learn and concentrate on :)

@Psy - Yeah I guess that makes sense :L actually it makes lots of sense, sorry for wasting your time :/

and call it an anime style comic

@Owithrow - Surely thats just the same thing?

v Makes sense :)

05-28-2012, 07:21 AM
Just call it a graphic novel. That's about as neutral as you can get.

"Graphic novel: a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art."

06-01-2012, 06:52 PM
The thing is that there is no word to used for the art style used in manga, anime and oekaki. For us outsiders, it's easy to get confused. For other styles, we mostly call it after the artist or the company. For instance, frank miller style = Highly realistic arts where it's mostly black and white with only 1 or 2 sharp colours coloured to show blood or flags more correctly. Or Marvel style = comics and cartoons usually controlled by Stan Lee that is always about super heroes and in a bold but realistic style with a strong on muscles and costumes.

But what do we call this? If not Manga, Anime or Oekaki style, what can we call it when there's hundreds of different companies and artists behind them? You see why we call it Manga? It's just easier than saying "Comics in black and white with humans that got good body structures, huge eyes, small noses, sharp chins and sharp and wild hair."

07-31-2012, 02:58 PM
Why does it matter whether you call it comic or manga... Really youre just making a big fuss rather than helping...

Anyway, i think if you want to be a good writer is too look at other things that arent necessarily just manga writing. Read novels, scripts, etc. use them as inspiration. Also look around you and see what stories there are. Walking pass and hearing other peoples conversations or seeing something unusual can create a story. Personally, I dont think theres a specific method of creating a story for a manga. Usually I write what I want to write and then make it into a script. It'll probably the same as writing a comic book script, however the flow of the story would be different.

Seeing from your method, I think youre on the right track. After youve written the general stuff, you'll just have to write a script and youre good to go. Having a lot of references of your characters and environment would be a good way to keep the story consistent. Keep it simple at the start though... If you want a long epic story, you should ease in to it and not go full blown.

I recommend reading "Ideas for the Animated Short" and "The Anatomy of Story" by John Truby if youre really interested in writing. Its more hardcore writing than just comic writing but it'll help you in more ways than one. im sure of it :)

08-01-2012, 11:38 AM
Whether it's comics, film, or literature, writing is writing. There are some things specific to Japanese writers that we identify as anime tropes, and if you want your writing to be "anime-influenced," you should look at those--which ones you like, which ones annoy you to no end--and pick and choose.

08-02-2012, 04:41 PM
A lot of 'anime tropes' are just bad writing that is so widespread and endemic that ignorant people have come to confuse them for valid stylistic or thematic choices, when they're not.

Sturgeon's Law is as true of anime as anything else, but what seems to set anime apart in regards to Sturgeon's Law is that not only is 90% of all anime crap, but most of the fans not only fail to recognize this, but confuse the crap for gold.

Basically what I'm saying is that most anime should be taken as writing examples only by way of "don't do this. Ever." I really want to teach a class on just Naruto or EVA, in this regard. Both really are really good teaching tools and examples of how not to do things. Kind of like the Star Wars prequels.

In fact, I'd recommend watching Plinkett's Star Wars reviews (http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/star-wars). Not everything he says will be helpful to you, since film has a language, but a lot of it is also applicable to any storytelling medium. Also worth reading are the Dominic Deegan mock threads on Something Awful (http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3459522).

NOTE: Plinkett's gimmick is offensive and unfunny more often than not, but seriously stick with it. When he's funny he's hilarious, and regardless these are some of the best film critiques you'll ever see.

08-03-2012, 03:58 PM
If you taught a class on Naruto or EVA, I'd take it. In fact, you should do a "how not to write" thread sometime.

Question: tropes aside, is there any particular thing that separates anime writing from other types of writing?

08-04-2012, 03:33 AM
Good japanese comics are very frequently alot more cinematic in their presentation than american comic books are. This is sort of crossing into art style territory, but really it matters when I've far more frequently seen martial arts handled well in manga. The former shows impacts and the damage caused, whilst the latter shows a much greater understanding of technique; And, indeed, success in showing that in a visual medium.

Humor is pretty different between the two aswell. Super hero comics depend quite a bit on lampshade hanging dudes doing hollywood action movie kinda stuff, were as the cheaper manga use tons and tons of fan service. That's one giant "Your mileage may vary" right there.

Thirdly, you have to acknowledge the folklore of western comics. Manga is far more frequently stand-alone, where as western comics have a love of reboots and continuing stories that draw upon comics the writer expects you to have already read. This is always something that I have a massive problem explaining to comic book fans, even. A veteran comic book fan, who knows who spider man and the green goblin are, (and, indeed, already likes them,) will have a far different experience from someone reading a spider man reboot story for the first time... Everybody knows the story already, of course, but only the veterans are inclined to care before they have even read it.

I also feel like the japanese fair far better with stories involving technology, but that's a whole different can of worms and I'd be much obliged if somebody gave me a western example which proves me wrong... x_x

08-05-2012, 09:24 PM
Western comics of the superhero mold in the big 2 are by and large modern mythology and should be approached as such.

But generally speaking the differences between Western comics and manga are stylistic choices, both equally valid (except when they are not) and there are no rules that apply to manga that don't apply to Western comics, and vice versa.

Comics have rules all their own, just like film, television, literature, and all sorts of mediums do. But manga really is not a medium - it's just comics that happen to share a country of origin and certain tropes that some people have arbitrarily decided is a unique medium apart from Western comics. It's not. It's a useful and helpful distinction from a consumer standpoint, due to the sorts of tropes and themes used, but from the standpoint of a creator there is no meaningful difference and the distinction is entirely meaningless.

08-06-2012, 02:06 PM
Well, I was mostly just pointing out that said lore is what makes alot of western comics inaccessible to new fans... I'm sure that there are many stand-alone examples out there of even the batman or superman franchises, but with the way that I've frequently seen it being handled, it can be a little like going to watch a new movie of Jason and the Argonauts and finding out the director expected you to read the Odyssey first.

The later star trek and gundam series have exact the same problem, so I'm not trying to smear their quality or anything. It's just a very large-scale underlying problem with the system that has become industry standard. It's gotten to the point that even comics which have no common ground can easily be confused with the ones that do by the uninitiated.

This is ignoring the scenarios where some parts of the series are considered far better than others, too. x_x

08-06-2012, 02:25 PM
Want to point something. Western comics =/= DC and Marvel. Yes those are the most "mainstream", but western comics are pretty wide on subjects and industry.

08-06-2012, 02:53 PM
I have pretty big pile of Dark Horse/Image/general independent comics aswell as a slew of european stuff, so yeah. Just pointing out the generalized problems of the western industry, as Kodos was in manga terms.

08-06-2012, 03:28 PM
Want to point something. Western comics =/= DC and Marvel. Yes those are the most "mainstream", but western comics are pretty wide on subjects and industry.
Yep! Although if you're an American it can often be very hard to find comics not made by the big two. Larger comics stores are likely to carry them, sure, but smaller comic places will only carry DC/Marvel and some of the larger 'others' like Archie's Sonic/Megaman stuff, Star Wars stuff, and *possibly* Udon's stuff.

08-06-2012, 03:30 PM
And if you're not American... Well, then, good luck. >_>

(It's easier to find stuff from Marvel/DC in england than it is to find stuff from england.)

08-06-2012, 04:05 PM
What about France? I know they have a healthy comics industry. But this is all a bit off topic, now, I think. Back to writing eveyrone!

Also, as an aside, Regcat - I sent you a email. Dunno if you got it. ;|

08-18-2012, 02:50 PM
Good topic for a thread, its nice to see someone wanting advise from the community. I won't fill up a post here with loads of advise, I'll make a new writing advise thread and all that I can help with will be revealed there.