All writing begins with an idea. And writing graphic novels is no different. We began by going through our notebooks looking for things we may want to write about, characters we might want to develop, topics or genres we may want to explore. Once the children had a few ideas they jotted their names and three possible ideas on a post-it note. This made partnering them up easier. I wanted them to have fun writing and for them to do this they would need to be writing with similar interests. Once partnered, it didn't take them long at all to comeup with a story idea.
But, if you know elementary students, and in particular third graders, they hate planning. Or should I say that they don't feel as if they need to plan? We've been using a pretty simple story structure all year: problems, attempts, resolution. Using this structure they began planning their novels. They began with their simple story structure and from there added a few things. We talked about climax and where it usually occurs in a story.
We talked about characters - heroes and villains - and decisions that had to be made as writers: who will triumph in the end? So many of my students were concerned because all of the books that are written for their age end happily and that is NOT how they wanted their story to end. I loved this conversation, being a rule - breaker myself, and assured them that it was THEIR story and they could make that decision if they wanted.
Drafting came easily to them. They were happy to write their script. Quite possibly they just liked the formality of the word script, but they spent six DAYS scripting! Abbreviating a character's name to show who is speaking was a favorite. But then we got into other aspects of script writing. Want your character to do something instead of speaking? Write it in parentheses. Do you want the narrator to speak, or transition from one scene to another? Use brackets. Using these tools brought joy to the process.