Frame by Frame Tells the Story by Nevada McPherson

Fretville frameLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Nevada McPherson as she shares with us about “Frame by Frame Tells the Story.” Enjoy!


If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know I’ve talked about my experience creating hand-drawn graphic novels and the joys and challenges of undertaking such a project.

I’ve discussed how my process has evolved since my first book, Uptowners, and how I’m trying something different and more collaborative for the upcoming sequel, Queensgate.

I’ve also discussed how learning more about comics has influenced me. That’s the inspiration for this column.

Are you thinking about creating your own graphic novel, or adapting one of your existing writing projects to that format?

It’s quite an experience.

If you’re leaning in that direction, I say go for it!

If you’re not sure if you’re prepared for the very substantial time investment involved in creating your own graphic novel, however, here’s an alternative you might want to consider: Tell your story in the form of a series, creating shorter scenes and vignettes that have some continuity.

I’ve recently created a new comic series called Fretville, started populating it with characters, and I’m creating a narrative where the characters and their relationships are developed bit by bit.

I find that these characters have a slightly different look and the world I’m creating (based on a small Southern town very much like my own hometown) is taking on a look and feel of its own as well.

I use around five frames for each installment, giving each installment a beginning, middle and end.

My plan after I have a substantial amount of material is to collect this into a book, essentially making it into a graphic novel, but created in smaller pieces.

I post each installment on my web site in my Fretville blog. This gives me time to develop something new that I’ve been wanting to do and to work on my longer format projects that are already in progress.

I haven’t gotten very far into Fretville yet, but I know where I want it to go and some subjects I want to explore.

There’s plenty of angst (hence the title) associated with identity, creativity and the surprising things that can happen when a character (or any one of us writers, artists, or simply human beings) takes a step outside of his or her comfort zone.

Sometimes it just so happens that what one thought was a comfort zone has become constricting and begs to be stretched or in some cases, shattered altogether, so something else exciting and more fulfilling can happen.

This all involves taking chances.

I want these characters to take chances even if many around them caution them against it.

As the story goes on I expect these characters will probably find common ground where they least expect it, and maybe resistance where they thought they’d find support.

As so many of us know, writing can be very therapeutic.

As a recovering worrier, I figure what better way to poke fun at my tendency to fret (I’m not alone, am I? Like I said, I’m learning how to stop fretting and enjoy life — this is helping!), than to bring it out into the light, examine it, laugh at it and let it go.

Source of Fretville

I suppose I came up with the title for this before it actually took shape, but one source of inspiration is the 1970’s TV show, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, starring Louise Lasser. It was an off-beat soap opera parody, set in a small town. There was a lot of fretting on that show, but also fascinating characters, and brilliant writing. Check it out sometime if you haven’t already.

Also, I was a big fan of the comic strip, Bloom County, by Berke Breathed, which followed a narrative day by day in the newspaper. Those strips were collected into editions that contained the whole hilarious story to enjoy all at one time. Something about these characters and their eccentricities resonated with me. As I learn more about comics as an art form I find myself going back to look at the ones I enjoyed at an earlier age and examining them closer.

Your idea’s not a comedy?

No problem. Just try telling it piece by piece and see what happens.

You can put it in your newsletter, on your web site, or your blog. Share it and get some reaction.

Perhaps you’ll gain some insight about your story and characters and whether you want to make it a long-term project or a short-term experiment in story-telling.

Here’s a link to my Fretville blog if you want to take a look:


My Queensgate Fashion Design and Set Design Contests that I talked about last time are up and running!

Check out Queensgate Design Contests at my web site:

If you’re interested, please enter, or if you have any designing friends, family or co-workers, let them know about it.

I’m so excited about the idea of a creative community around this project and I’m grateful to be a part of this creative community that is Writer’s Fun Zone!

(Editor’s note: We’re happy to have you here, Nevada!)

Happy writing, drawing and creating, as we look toward the summer.

Cheers ‘til next time!



Nevada McPhersonOriginally from Georgia, Nevada McPherson lived in uptown New Orleans for several years and now lives with her husband Bill and rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi near Asheville, North Carolina. Nevada received a BA in English/Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge. She’s written over a dozen feature-length screenplays, one short screenplay, short stories and two graphic novels. For more information about Nevada and her projects visit

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