Guest post: ‘Writing manga’ by fantasy / manga author TJ Perkins

I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of animé / manga, by TJ Perkins.

‘Writing manga’

I’ve always loved anime and manga and when I created the Shadow Legacy series I had no idea that, within the folds of the fantasy I wrote, I incorporated a story that reads much like a manga.  So, what is manga?

Manga is a Japanese style of comic book that is presented in a smaller format and with distinct styles of drawing. It is typically distinguished by long, lean characters with large eyes and dramatic hair and other exaggerated features.  Manga is a form of comic all its own, with different conventions and rules than regular American comics.  If you’ve ever browsed the anima section you’ve most likely noticed those thick books, with comics inside, and most are read from back to front.

How should you start a manga?  Like any good story you have to develop your characters, the protagonist and antagonist, their world, and figure out what makes them tick.  What is the plot?  What is the crisis?  Is there a quest? And so on.  This must come first.  Once you’ve developed this important step it’s then time to surge ahead.

Writing manga is more like setting up a comic book.  Once you have your story outlined you’ll have to break it up into sections.  These sections should be broken down in a page-by-page status and go with your dialogue.  Write out the general plot and dialogue for each section.  Keep it simple.  Manga is much more streamlined than prose, and boxes are much smaller than traditional comics.  Brevity is key.  Dialogue should be natural but simple, and the action and expression of the characters should carry the weight of the story.  If you’re an excellent artists and a great storyteller then you won’t have to share your work with an artist.  But if you can only tell a good story you’ll have to find an artist.

Manga is more difficult to write than a novel or short story.  You have to get your idea, thoughts, feelings, emotions and action across within a matter of a few cells – just like a comic book.  How do you do that?  Stay in the moment, one page at a time.  Writing manga is a lot like writing a play or film script because you’re writing according to images.  You’re exploring the characters with their dialogue and using that dialogue to move the story along.  You are writing for pictures so take care not to make your story ‘too talky.’  You’re words have to actually make your pictures come alive.

To tell you how to write would be like someone trying to tell you how to walk.  You can do it – one step at a time.  Let that story flow and match it to your artwork.

Good luck and get your manga on!

Morgen: I love that, thank you TJ.

Award-winning author TJ Perkins is a gifted and well-respected author in the mystery/suspense genre. Her writing style has been compared to that of Mildred Wirt Benson A.K.A. Carolyn Keen (Nancy Drew).  Mystery books for ages 8-14 are Mystery of the Attic, On Forbidden Ground, Wound Too Tight and the first 5 books in the Kim & Kelly Mystery Series. TJ has recently expanded into the world of fantasy for teens. Publisher Silver Leaf Books has contracted to release Shadow Legacy, a 5-book series of fantasy.  The first installment of this new exciting series, Art of the Ninja: Earth, is an award-winner and has been classified by readers and reviewers as a cross-genre of fantasy/manga. TJ lives in Baltimore, MD with her 2 cats and an imagination that’s bursting at the seams.

You can read sample pages of TJ’s writing (, see the book trailer (, check out TJ’s blog, follower her on Twitter, friend / like her on Facebook and find her books at GoodReads (all her books are available on Kindle, Nook, iPad – just look them up by TJ Perkins).

Wikipedia’s articles on Anime and Manga are also worth a visit (after TJ’s sites of course :)).

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

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