Welcome back to the second week of How To Make An Anime!!! Last week we spoke about the basics of creating a storyline. This week we are going to be refining our storyline and turning it into a proposal for potential artists or studios. If you didn’t read the previous article then it’s time you catch up by visiting How to Make Anime: Part 1.
All caught up? Great! So you have a basic plot, you have your main character/s, and you have a world for them to exist in. Now it is time to expand on these ideas.
Refining your story
I know. Its hard when you have so many ideas running around in your big brain to try and put it all down on paper. It's a difficult task that makes me want to cry sometimes, but if you really want to share your story with the rest of the world you have to take it one step at a time. To help you, consider these few things.
In order for you to figure out the meat of your story you’re going to need to start at the end. Will your story end in a way that feels like you've successfully communicated your ideas? Once you know what your ultimate goal is you can start working backwards to where you want your story to begin.
Mid term goals
Anyone who’s worked on a complex project like making an anime or game will tell you that the best way to deal with this daunting task is to split it up into smaller parts. By creating plot landmarks for your movie or series you will be able to see how things will progress right from beginning to end. This reduces the risk of plot holes and fends off those nasty plot hole trolls.
Point of view
Every story has a point of view, be it from the character’s perspective or from an onlookers perspective. You will need to decide what point of view will suit the kind of story you are going to tell. Durarara is probably one of my favourite examples of good perspective. The story is told from all of the character's perspectives and each one views the same situation in a different light, which helps create complex character interaction and storytelling.
Protagonist and Antagonist - The relationship factor
Having your characters worked out, it’s time to start weaving your web. People are not islands, we do not exist on our own. Humans have complex relationships with each other and so should your characters. One of the most important relationships in your story will be the one between your protagonist and your antagonist.
Before we continue, it must be said that the antagonist in your story does not have to be a person, it could also be a situation or personal struggle.
Remember, in order to make your hero worthy of being a hero their antagonist needs to be able to challenge them at the core. They need to be an obstacle that our hero has to struggle to overcome, otherwise you might as well write about someone working in an office.
However you decide to build these character interactions is entirely up to you, but I advise looking to your own relationships and the relationships you wish to have with people. This will help you understand the connection between any two characters more fully.
Series vs movie scripting
Writing a plot for a movie and a series can be very different. A movie requires you to pack as much information into your story as possible since you only have a 2 hour window, whereas a series will require you to stretch out your plot land marks and may even require you to create filler episodes. Keep this in mind when writing out your plot synopsis.
Creating a proposal
Not all proposals and scripts will look the same but there are some key factors that need to be included in your documentation to help people understand what you are trying to say. And remember that someone reading this script will not know what you know about this story so you want to be able to make them understand your vision without overwhelming them.
Project details - Page 1
Your first page should contain:
- The author’s name
- Author’s address and contact details
- The name of the show
- Genre of the show
- Intended number of episodes/or length of the movie
A short plot synopsis - Page 2
This will be a quick summary of your plot; it should contain your end goal and how you plan to get there. Remember that you only have about a half a page for this, so don’t make it too complicated as the reader may get lost easily.
Character profiles - Page 3
By now you should know a lot about your characters and how they are going to interact with each other. You will need to create a short description of each character and what their role is.
Eg: Sōma Yukihira (Main Character) - Sōma is a skilled and determined young man who dreams of becoming a full-time chef in his father's neighborhood restaurant and surpassing his father's culinary skills. When Sōma is sent to an elite culinary school, where only 10% of the students manage to graduate, he will meet many amazing students and experience new things that allow him to grow further towards his goal.
Settings - Page 4
Like your character profiles you will need to describe common settings in which the characters find themselves. If your anime is a slice-of-life set at a school then describe the school. If your characters have a secret base describe the base. Just like in real life the characters may travel to many places so documenting more than one common area is a good idea.
Episode synopsis - Page 5
If you are writing a series then you may want to write a short synopsis on the first episode of the first season. This will help the person reading your proposal understand the plot better as they can see where you intend to start your story.
Character sheets - Page 6
People won’t automatically know what your character looks like; this is why character sheets are important. You may say ‘but I dunno how to draw’. Well that doesn’t matter! As long as you can get your idea across to an artist who can draw, then you'll be fine. With the invention of things like anime avatar creators you can come up with a character to present to an artist. Sites such as Scratch, DollDivine, and Avachara and RinmaruGames are a good place to start.
Each character sheet should be a page and each page should contain the character’s name and any small details you may like to include about their appearance or who they are. It should also have a front, back and side view of the character.
Set Sheet - Page 7
Again, like with the character sheet, you should also have a set sheet. This will contain images of a floor plan for the building or room you are displaying and a 3D view. It should also contain any decor elements you believe are important to help you or another artist build the room in the anime.
With all of the above in hand you are ready to expose your idea to the world. Before taking it to a studio or an artist though, you should ask someone with an outsider’s perspective to read it. This way you will have an honest opinion and you can adjust your proposal accordingly. Ask family and friends to read it and give you feedback. And don’t be shy to ask people who are already in the storytelling industry. I am sure they would be happy to help you out and show you what you can change to make your proposal better.
So that's all for this week folks. I thought I would keep it short this time as next week we're discussing script writing and story boarding, both of which I would like to cover in detail. In the meantime you can find me at All Otaku Online or visit our Facebook page where we share whatever the hell we feel like.
Until next time, sayounara, and thanks for all the fish.