One of the many amazing things about stories is that there’s a whole lot of ways to tell them - through the words of a short story, novel or poem, or through a mix of words and images, as in movies, cartoons, and comic strips. With that in mind, this month’s activity guides young writers and illustrators to create their very own six-frame comic strip Christmas card to give to friends and family. All of which means, it’s full of festive fun, and practical, too!
What you need
- Paper to practise on.
- Card to create on.
- Your choice of pens, pencils or paints, and maybe some cool stuff to add extra sparkle to your creation, like glitter and foil.
- Oodles of imagination!
What to do - six steps to creating an incredible six-frame comic strip Christmas card
1. Brainstorm ideas
First up, you need to think up an idea for your visual story. Maybe it could feature the friends or family you’ll give your comic strip card to. Perhaps it could have a funny festive theme. For example, you could create a comedy comic strip caper about Santa getting stuck in the chimney, and a super-hero elf has to help him out. Or what if Rudolf’s nose stops glowing and your characters have to help him out so he can still guide Santa’s sleigh? It’s up to you!
2. Write your six-point plan
Stories need plots, and that includes stories told through words and pictures. The plot of a story is basically the “what happens next?” As a writer, whether you’re using words, pictures, or both, it’s up to YOU to put the events of your story into the best possible order to make your story more interesting, exciting or intriguing for your reader. In the case of this six-frame comic strip, that means thinking of six points of action. To do that, write down the numbers 1-6 on a piece of paper and plan your story, from setting the scene, through four scenes that move your story along (with each scene becoming more exciting, or funnier) to your festive finale (number 6).
3. Sketch it out
Once you have your six-point plot, it’s time to sketch out your story. This means roughly drawing what happens in each of your six plot points.
4. Fine tune the words
Next up, you need to decide what words you want to add to each of your six pictures. They don’t all have to have words, by the way - that’s up to you too! Sometimes a picture can tell your readers all they need to know. Sometimes you might want to add some dialogue, perhaps a speech bubble coming from a character’s mouth, like “HELP! I’M STUCK UP THE CHIMNEY!”. Sometimes you might just want to add an action word to your picture, or a single, small word with big impact, like “SPLAT!” or “BOOM!”.
5. Prepare the card
Now take your sheet of card, fold it over and draw a grid of six evenly-sized boxes - two rows of three.
6. Complete your creation
Using your six-point plan as a guide, draw the final images on your folded card, add the words, and maybe add some sparkle too. Hey presto! Your comic strip Christmas card is ready to be given to its very lucky recipient.
Joanne Owen is a writer and publishing professional with over twenty years’ experience of the book industry, and the author of a how-to children’s guide to creative writing, You Can Write Awesome Stories. Alongside writing and reviewing books, she hosts writing workshops and is an Editorial Expert for LoveReading.