Graphic Novels: Turning Personal Experience into Story


Graphic Novels: Turning Personal Experience into Story

Explore how to get beyond the initial fear and dive in to creating a graphic novel.


Tuition Assistance and Other Policies

Meeting Times
  1. Sat, 6/22/2024 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Sat, 6/22/2024


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No Prerequisite, Class, Try It

Writers Studio

Fiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Painting, Publishing


Memoirs and stories inspired by real-life experiences are a perfect springboard into the graphic novel format. But how to get started?

Through a format that is part presentation, part hands-on class exercises, you'll hear about the instructor's background in publishing, her journey of creating her first graphic novel, and what specifically led her there. A slide presentation highlights a range of graphic novels, in particular middle grade and young adult, memoirs and narratives that are based on personal experiences.

This class explores:

  • The comic format, page and panel layout, and where to find more resources
  • Story dynamics of text vs. image and what comes first and touches on character design and setting
  • The writing process, from loose notes to outline to script, alongside the drawing process from sketching to inking and the final stage of coloring
  • How it all comes together, while also stressing that there is no "right" way to do it and every creator has their own method
  • The essentials of what is needed to put together a pitch-ready package to submit to a literary agent or publisher


Skill level: Writers and illustrators of any level. Although the content presented is focused on middle grade graphic novels, the class is appropriate for writers of any genre or age group who have an interest in exploring the graphic novel as a format for their narrative.

Class Policies

Ages 14 and up are welcome.

BARN Policies

  • View BARN's Cancellation and Refund Policy.
  • Tuition Assistance is available. Fill out the application before registering.
  • BARN is committed to accessibility. We try to make accommodations when requested; the earlier you contact us, the more likely we can help. Please email to find out more or request an accommodation.
  • Sensory Statement: Makerspaces like BARN can be noisy and cluttered, smell strongly, and have bright or flickering lights.

Instructors or Guides

Kristin Varner

A Seattle-based author and illustrator, Kristin has been a freelance illustrator for more than 20 years. She earned her degree in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design and has created artwork for children’s books, magazines, toys, apparel, and other products. Her most recent book, "Horse Trouble," received an American Library Association Best Graphic Novel for Children Award. Her forthcoming middle grade graphic novel, "Dog Trouble," releases in the fall of 2024 with First Second Books. Kristin teaches graphic novel webinar workshops for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is currently at work on the early stages of an early reader graphic novel project.

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