I'd like to continue to place some information extracted from my manga-drawing book I'm writing now.

I'll show some part of manga story-creating in this page.



When we create magna, we need to create a plot as well as character charts.


Some learners try to create very long stories even though they haven't get enough skills to do so. Before working on such huse manga, it's very important to acuire basic techniques by creating short manga consisit of at least 16 pages, at most around 50 pages.

I'd recommend beginners to draw 16 or 24 pages, and it seems that 32 pages manga is most common for learners.


Plot is a text of outlines of manga stories. We usually type or write on paper in the size of around B5. When manga artists have a meeting with editors, we show plots and character charts. Since they are outlines of stories, we don't write characters' speeches or detailed descriptions. 


However, if they are too small in amount, we can't make them understood enough as to how the story goes. Thereby, I write around one page for 16 pages of manga, two pages for 32 pages of manga, and three pages for 40 pages of manga. I usually use B5 or A4 sized thin paper for plots.

In some publishers, the editors omit the first stage of discussion on plots and character charts and begin with the next step, called "name", though. 


I'm often asked ,"Do I have to think of plots first, or character charts?" 

The answer is, "Either will do." You can start with thinking of just anything related to the story. It's OK as long as it will be completed. 

Therefore whether you think of some character first, or come up with either of some episode first or the set-up of the story first, there wouldn't be any problem.



Then, let's begin with basic knowledge of plot called "5W".

You should put 5W factors at the beginning of the plot. The 5W factors are as in the followings.



When...the time and date of the story

Where...the place of the story

Who...the name, age and occupation of the main character

What...what the protagonist do

Why...the reason why the protagonist do so



Let me show you an example of texts which include 5W factors. The beginning of the plot is like this.


"On May 2014(when), Naomi Ito, who is a student of Tama Art university(who) is painting a picture(what) at a riverbank of the Tama river(where). This is because she is going to submit her work to an art competition called Nika-ten(why)."


As you can see, it's easy to understand the situation of the story if 5w factors are put at the beginning of plots. Would-be manga artists should always pay attention whether their works are understandable or not.



Basically, we consider that the story of short comic strips/short manga is composed of a series of episodes. Usually we don't count as episodes, such as characters' glancing at a clock or their yawning, etc. They are only of instant scenes. However, we count impressive and important happenings to some extent as episodes.



When we write plots to create stories, we especially pay attention to the basic rule called "Ki-Shou-Ten-Ketu". 



The story of Japanese manga around 16~60 pages consists of these four parts. So, when you create plots you should be conscious of each part's important role. 



Ki: Ki is the beginning part of stories, so, you should put 5W factors into this part and let the readers understand the situation of the story. In addition, it's important to place a happening which would attract reader's interest and make them feel like continuing to read the manga. 


Shou: Shou is the part in which the story develops towards the climax. 

This is the longest part among the four. It would be better to put some short scenes or episodes which would make the protagonists and other main characters look attractive. Because if the readers are not charmed by the characters, they won't be so excited when the story reaches the climax. 


Ten: Ten is the climax. If it is a fighting story, the main character would defeat the enemy here, and if it's a love story, the main character would confess his or her love. Usually, most impressive and big episodes among the whole story should be placed here. 


Ketus: Ketus is the last scene. This part has influence on the readers' feelings very much just after they finish reading, so, it would be better to think over carefully. 


If you want to win a manga prize, you need to be well aware of it.




After you get the knowledge of basics of creating plots, let's learn concrete ways of creating them briefly.


There are many ways of creating plots and I'll introduce three of them.


Method 1: The first way is to think of the main character's aim and add something which would disturb its accomplishment. 


For example, if the main character's aim is to win in a tennis prefectural meeting, you should add something disturbing, such as injuries in practice, some powerful rival's moving into the prefecture, and then, consider how the main character overcomes them to achieve the aim. 


You might feel it hard to think of good ideas to get over the difficulties, but this is the place for you to show your skills. This method is the most basic and has wide applications, so, you can use this in various genres. 


Method 2: The second one is called " three words story" in Japan. This is a method to prepare three words and create a story using them. For example, if you prepare three words " bird, stairs, medicine", you create a plot using these words. 


Three words should be chosen as randomly as possible. For example, you can turn up a dictionary three times when your eyes are closed, or, you can write various words on small pieces of paper, turn them upside down, scatter them on a table and choose three of them at random. Unexpected combinations of words sometimes bring about accidentally unique plots.



Method 3: The third one is to extract a "framework" of a ready-made story. For example, you can extract a framework from "The Ugly Duckling" as follows. 


" Some inferior main character who had been made fun of by everyone for a long time turned out to be an excellent person." 



You can create new story based on this framework. 


I just cited three methods, and it's OK for you to think of other methods.



Here are rough guidelines of assignment count of episodes or short scenes for each of the four parts.

16 pages manga: Ki 1 episode or 1 short scene   Shou 2 episodes   Ten 1 episode   Ketsu 1 episode or 1 short scene


24 pages manga: Ki 1 episode or 1 short scene    Shou 2 or 3 episodes   Ten 1 episode   Ketsu 1 episode or 1 short scene


32 pages manga: Ki 1 episode   Shou 3 or 4 episodes   Ten 1 or two episodes  Ketsu 1 episode

40 pages manga: Ki 1 or 2 episode  Shou 4 or 5 episodes   Ten 1 or 2 episode   Ketsu 1 episode 


48 pages manga: Ki 1 or 2 episode  Shou 5 or 6 episodes   Ten 2 or 3 episode   Ketsu 1 or 2 episodes


Then, you have learned the basics of plot-creating, so, let's create a plot!

I have created a format to help you create  it. You can organize your ideas before you work on it using this one.


Please click the chart to enlarge it.

Q 1: I still don't understand what it is like to "grasp characters' personalities".


 A: It is to understand the characters as much as you understand your close friends, your family, anybody whose personalities you know well.

If you imagine that something happens to someone close to you, it would be easy for you to guess his or her reaction, right?


For example, "If my close friend breaks his heart, he would be absent from school at least for one month and continue playing a game trying to escape from reality." or "If my mother wins 1 billion yen, she would fall over with too much excitement and as soon as she regains consciousness, she would be absorbed in shopping at well-known luxury brand clothing stores."


When you grasp your characters' personalities, you can easily guess their reactions to various happenings like these examples. This is it."

Fortunately, this answer seems to satisfy almost all students.



Q 2 : What is a typical weak point of amateur story teller's plots or characters?


A: I've seen hundreds of plots of stories written by would-be manga artists, the most striking drawback is "a lack of originality".


As far as beginners are concerned, it's OK to have similarity with other manga to some degree when they draw manga as  practice. If their works are very similar to ready-made ones, it's all right as long as they are not shown publicly. Because it's natural for them to imitate their favorite professionals' works.


However if you are would-be manga artists who are at intermediate or advanced level, you need to know that originality is inevitable to become professionals.


In many cases, they are highly influenced by other famous manga. I can see many similarities in setting, episodes, characters' personalities and appearances. A lack of originality is one of the big factors which prevents you from becoming a professional most.


Of course even famous works are affected by other works to some extent, but not so much as to be called "rehashes" or "medleys of other famous works". This is because the impression of originality surpasses the impression of similarity.


In order to lessen the impressions of similarity with other works, try not to imitate the unique settings, the important items, the main characters' characteristics, the important episodes especially the ones at climax.



Why similarity is so damaging? This is because human beings lose interest when they face similar things multiple times. This tendency is especially  remarkable among young people while elderly people tend to feel comfort when similar things are repeated around them.


Therefore, works for young people like manga, especially need to have attractive originality in many aspects.


Please try to bring original ideas into your manga.  You can put them in settings, items, characters' characteristics, episodes, words, etc, almost everywhere in their works.

(I don't mean everything in your manga should be completely original. I mean that you shouldn't imitate impressive points of ready-made manga, such as unique setting of the manga, impressive character or episodes.)



Q 3 : When I'm creating plots, I get at a standstill many times because I can't think of good ideas. What should I do?


A: To tell the truth, professional manga artists often get into the same situation.

What do you think they do then? They will continue to consider until they get good ideas.


As a matter of fact, getting at a standstill is a hopeful sign. When you get stuck in creating ideas, you should consider more than when you are not at a standstill, so, this will bring about much better ideas. It's regrettable to give up thinking without knowing this fact.


In creating something, you often face such kind of standstills. In spite of this, if you get bright ideas after you continue to consider perseveringly, you will feel very happy so much as to forget the birth pangs you had been suffering from just a few minutes ago. In many cases such creations get popularity.


Having both pain and delight is the true nature of creative activities.