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SMAC! Web Magazine

SMAC! MANGA DOJO #14 – “A story is, WHO / DOES WHAT/ HOW / and ENDS UP WITH WHAT!”

<Characters>

Penmaru

Is a ninja dog who dreams of becoming the greatest manga creator in the animal world. To help achieve his dream, Mocchi gives him a mission… “Learn how to create manga at the Manga Dojo.”

Often listens to Anime songs while working.

 

“Shihan” Manga Master

The master of the dojo and Penmaru’s tutor in the ways of manga. An experienced editor who has worked in the manga industry for over 30 years.

Often listens to the sound of rain while working (Trust me, it works!!).

 

<Previously in Manga Dojo>

Penmaru is a Ninja dog who is studying how to create good manga.

From “the steps to drawing manga” to “how to STEAL ideas”, his tutor – Manga Shihan’s lessons are always wakening!

What will he learn this time?

 

Ep.14 ”A story is, WHO / DOES WHAT/ HOW / and ENDS UP WITH WHAT!”

Penmaru: Yay! After spending the entire night thinking, my story has finally taken shape!!

 

Penmaru: Let’s show this to Shihan, and see what he has to say!!

 

 

― Shihan’s bedroom ―

 

Shihan: Zzzzzz……

 

Penmaru: Shihan! Shihan!!

 

Shihan: Mmmm……I can’t eat any more……

 

Penmaru: SHIHAN!! WAKE UP!!!

 

Shihan: Mmmm……Be quiet!!!!! Do you have any idea what time it is!? It’s still 4 AM!!

 

Penmaru: I came up to a story! Please take a look!!!! (SHAKE SHAKE)

 

Shihan: Alright, alright, alright!! I’ll give it a look, so let go of me already!

 

Shihan: Geez you little……okay, let’s see……

 

“The protagonist is a one-armed swordsman, living in a fantasy world. He lost his arm in battle whilst fighting against a dragon. Now he works as a mercenary, moving from place to place in order to fight monsters. He is……”

 

Shihan: ……

 

Penmaru: What do you think, Shihan!? I have the feeling this is going to be EPIC!

 

Shihan: I can see it has potential, but…… frankly, this doesn’t tell me anything about the story so I don’t really know what to say about it.

 

Penmaru: !!!!! Eh……how come?

 

Shihan: Because what’s written here is more a “list of settings”, rather than a story.

 

Penmaru: ?? S-settings??

 

Shihan: Exactly. Penmaru, a story must be written in a “WHO” “DOES WHAT”, “HOW”, and “ENDS UP AS” structure. If you’re missing these three crucial elements, your “story” is merely a list of settings.

 

Penmaru: Is that so……?

 

Shihan: Of course. And a list of settings won’t take you anywhere. Let me elaborate…

 

Penmaru: Yes!

 

 

Shihan: First of all, you must know that a story is “a passage of time, interwoven with charming characters”…… It’s like a sea voyage, or an adventure – even if it doesn’t involve literal adventures.

 

Penmaru: A voyage…… an adventure……!

 

Shihan: Now, Penmaru. Imagine you are on a boat. What do you need to move it?

 

Penmaru. Well, to move a boat…… oh, you need a rower, or maybe an engine!

 

Shihan: Yes. The first thing you need to find is a rower……or the POWER that moves the boat forward. In manga, that is what the CHARACTERS are for. Without a good character, the story wouldn’t go in the right direction – just like how a boat cannot advance without a rower.

 

Penmaru: Of course, because there’s no such thing as a story without characters! Every manga creator says that characters are the most important!

 

Shihan: Absolutely. However, you cannot proceed on your journey with just a rower alone – what else do you think you need?

 

Penmaru: Hmmm? The actual boat? Maybe some supplies to last a few days……?

 

Shihan: No, something more important. Here’s a big hint – it’s something that guides you.

 

Penmaru: Guides me……?

 

Penmaru: Ah! Perhaps a map? Or a compass? 

 

Shihan: Well, mostly correct! “Destination”, to be more accurate. Without a destination, you would have no clue where to go, right? But if you know where the boat should be heading, you can go forward, left or right – even backwards!

 

Penmaru: Right, without a map, you’ll get lost! I remember Hirohiko Araki sensei mentioned “It’s dangerous going to the mountains without a map – especially if, worst case scenario, you get caught up in a disaster!”

 

Shihan: Absolutely! And in story creation the “destination” is “The character’s GOAL”, or “WHAT HE/SHE DOES”. As long as the character’s path is defined, you should be able to create a consistent story without driving too far off track.

 

Penmaru: So, you mean the the protagonist doesn’t get lost! I see, I didn’t realize that……

 

Shihan: Now, we have decided the destination, and we have enough rowers. Just one more thing and we should be able to start our journey. What do you think it is?

 

Penmaru: So, we have the “Character”, and the “Goal”…… yet that’s not enough…… Hmmmm……?

 

Penmaru: I know! Shihan mentioned that the readers are wanting the “HOW”…… so, we need to think of the method the character employs to reach their goal, right? 

 

Shihan: BINGO! Even if we have rowers, if you don’t know they can actually ROW the boat, you can’t give them specific orders. In manga, that is the “STRENGTH of the character / the method the character uses to achieve their goal” – or the “HOW”, in short.

 

Shihan: Thus, with the three elements “WHO” “DOES WHAT” and “HOW” defined clearly, the outline of the story will naturally present itself!

 

Penmaru: Aha! I didn’t know it was that simple!!

 

Shihan: It is. Moreover, we can say that all manga titles considered to be “classics”, or “interesting”, have this “WHO / DOES WHAT / and HOW” at their core, no matter how complicated the story itself may seem.

 

Shihan: For example, ‘Fist of the North Star’ would be……

WHO = A silent assassin

DOES WHAT = Gets rid of the bad guys

HOW = Using an array of special martial art techniques, that makes enemies explode from the inside out.

 

Shihan: And ‘City Hunter’ would be……

WHO = An amorous sweeper (or hitman?)

DOES WHAT = Executes criminals who are outside the law

HOW = By extremely precise gun shooting

 

Shihan: See how simple the outline could be told? 

 

Penmaru: I see~!

 

Shihan: In addition, it’s a good idea to imagine “THE RESULTS / HOW IT ENDS” as well – especially if you’re aiming to write a short manga. For example……”A grim reaper / HELPS a dying mother to deliver her baby / by giving her additional time / and is thanked by her”, or “An olympian / commits a foul on purpose / to help his opponent / and impresses everyone”.

 

Penmaru: Hmm?? I think I’ve seen that story before……

 

Shihan: Hahaha, you may have? 

 

Shihan: Anyway, “WHO”, “DOES WHAT”. “HOW”, and “ENDS UP WITH WHAT”…… If you can sum up your story using these four elements, and make it sound interesting, you are on the right track! It’s absolutely up to your skills of summarization, if you can create an interesting story or not!

 

Penmaru: OK……

 

Shihan: Well, now I’m wide-awake from talking with you. I might as well stay awake rather than go back to sleep. Let’s start the training, shall we?

 

Penmaru: ……

 

Shihan: ……Penmaru? Are you listening to……

 

Penmaru: Zzzzzz……

 

Shihan: He’s sleeping with his eyes wide open……? What a talented boy……!

 

Penmaru receives an early morning lesson concerning the early stages of story creation!

It seems Shihan’s advice was stronger than a certain someones ability to stay awake though…

What challenge lies in store next for Penmaru!?

 

Did you enjoy reading this story?

Did you find the hints and tips to improve your manga production?

If YES, please share the article with your fellow creators!

If NO, please let me know how we can improve Penmaru’s journey!

We welcome any and all kinds of opinions and questions, requests and comments, day and night!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for updates 😉


Script: Mayuna Mizutani – Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Illustration: Roberto F. – Support him on Instagram, Facebook & APOIA.se

Tweet your questions / opinions / reviews at #SMACMangaDojo, and I will answer! 😉

Mayuna Mizutani