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Graphic Novels: Writing in Pictures and Words

By Eric Hand and Hareem Atif Khan

Graphic Novel Book Cover

This groundbreaking unit—the first writing unit from TCRWP that focuses specifically on graphic novels—stands on the shoulders of all the narrative writing Units of Study, helping children transfer what they’ve learned of narrative craft into a new medium.

What's so special about graphic novels anyway? Pictures help readers see things that words don't. Speech balloon's shape and outline can show tone! Panels break action into bit-by-bit parts. Sound effects show where a sound is coming from and show tone.

The new Graphic Novels unit asks you to reinterpret your definition of writing. You will teach true writing skills, but they will be disguised in a fun new format that will help your students grow much smarter at reading and writing stories in multiple media. Even though students may not create pages and pages of paragraphs, they will be writing:

  • Structuring a well-paced story is writing.
  • Zooming in on a moment to highlight importance is writing.
  • Showing not telling is writing.

Your writers will do all of this and more in this unit as they tell visual stories.

Unit Overview

Like other writing Units of Study, this unit focuses heavily on process rather than product, and the flow of lessons reflects this. Instead of handing students a printed grid of panels to fill out, you’ll teach them to build a panel layout to highlight what they deem important on that page. Instead of having them cartoon out a preexisting story, you’ll preserve the true writing process by teaching them to doodle the very start to a story idea. This makes for a messier process, but it also makes the process intellectually demanding. In preserving the independent decision making that is the hallmark of the authentic writing process, you are actually teaching true writing skills disguised in a fun new format.

This unit comprises two bends. Each bend takes students through a complete writing cycle, which means children will have written two graphic novels by the end of the unit.

Generate Ideas → Orally Rehearse → Bookmap → Thumbnails → Draft → Revise, Revise, Revise → Edit → Publish

Bend I: Writing a First Graphic Novel

Bend II: Powering Up Your Visual Craft 

Introductory Webinar


Sample Session

Click on the image below to download the Table of Contents and Session 1.

Sample Lesson

Ordering Information

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