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Welcome to the Kite Tales Writing Prompt: #KTWriteOn. Each writing challenge is crafted by a kid-lit publishing professional to help spark ideas and creative energy. This prompt was created by author and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

By Debbie Ridpath Ohi

I’ve always been a fan of sequential art – art forms that use images for the purpose of graphic storytelling. Back in childhood, the first comic I created was about a baby named Boppy, and I shared it with my family. Sadly, I didn’t keep any samples. I kept working on different comics over the years, just for the fun of it. I loved the challenge of trying to distill the essence of a story or story scene in just a few panels. My focus was on the story, not the art, and connecting with readers. You can see samples of my early webcomics at Waiting For Frodo, Will Write For Chocolate, and My Life In A Nutshell.

When I read sequential art nowadays, I read more graphic novels than regular comics – I like the longer form. I may work on my own someday. Who knows? But meanwhile, I have found sequential art is also a wonderful way to brainstorm ideas for character, plot, and dialog.

Here is a writing prompt for you all. Take a look at the following:

For the above, come up with dialog for the speech bubbles, and then describe what would happen and/or be said in the 4th panel. This could be an entire scene or a snippet of a scene; it’s up to you.

Repeat this TEN MORE TIMES, but with different story and character backgrounds behind the dialog.

If you have trouble getting started, here are some starting prompts for what could be in speech bubble A:

“Are you finished yet? We’re going to be late.”

“I have something important to tell you.”

“What are you doing?”

“This is the best book I’ve ever read.”

“This is the worst book ever written.”

“So are you ready to talk about what happened last night?”

“Do you hear that?”

Another way to do this prompt: Experiment with different character VOICES. Have them say basically the same thing, but in different ways. Change sentence length, vocabulary level, or rhythm. You can show a lot about a character’s personality, background, and mood from how they speak.

Another fun creative prompt method: Flip to a random page in a graphic novel, pick a few panels and write your own dialog in such a way that it completely changes the character personalities or scene plot.

If you enjoy this exercise and would like to try more, try your own hand at sequential art brainstorming. You do not have to be an artist! Use stick figures and feel free to use my sequential art templates.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the author and illustrator of Where Are My Books? and Sam & Eva (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Her illustrations also appear in books by Michael Ian Black and Judy Blume, among others. She posts about reading, writing and illustrating books for young people at Inkygirl.com. More about Debbie and her work at DebbieOhi.com on Twitter at @inkyelbows, and on Instagram at @inkygirl

If you want to share your work, progress, or ideas based on this writing prompt, or if you just want to connect with others who are tackling this challenge, comment on this blog post or Tweet us  @SCBWISOCALLA with the hashtag #KTWriteOn.

Need more inspiration? Check out all the past #KTWriteOn prompts.

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.

Illustration courtesy of Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Portrait by Annie Truuvert. Stock image by Dustin Lee on Unsplash.

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