National Graphic Novel Writing Month, Day #2: Why 48 pages?
So we’re already getting questions in (and if you have questions, post them in a comments thread or use the feedfack form for privacy) and the most immediate one is– why 48 pages? Why not 50, or 45, or whatever length seems appropriate for the story?
1. If a picture is worth a thousand words, and National Novel Writing Month wants a minimum of 50,000 words– you do the math.
2. We’re going for the shortest length of comic book that you can put a spine on as a prestige format book.
3. More to the point, the production requirements of comics limit you to the number of pages you can use, usually in multiples of 8 or 16. With a novel, you can enlarge or shrink the text to fit those multiple page counts– and obviously, you can’t do that with pictures that are designed to go a certain way. Printing more pages so you can fit those extra three pages in can mean a huge increase in the cost of printing the book. (Production limitations show up in other areas too. As a quick example, there’s little more irritating to an editor to have a double page spread come in that’s supposed to go on pages 11 and 12– which are back to back pages, not facing pages. We’ll discuss others in future installments.)
Understand, the script you’re writing will probably not be 48 pages long, but you have to write that when it’s all drawn that it will fill 48 pages. Your script may be shorter, or it may be far longer. The Killing Joke was a 48 page graphic novel, and it took Alan Moore over 16000 words just to describe the first quarter of the book. That’s 39 single spaced pages of typing for 12 pages of comics, people.
Is there a right ratio for your script? Actually, yes– if you do a thumbnail version of your story as part of your process, then obviously your layout should match the number of pages. But we’ll get into that next time.
Remember: you can follow all the NaGraNoWriMo posts here!