What is a Graphic Novel?

Students learn the common elements and vocabulary for a graphic novel.

Graphic novels are a lot like comic books, but they're usually longer and have a complete story in one book. Just like comic books, graphic novels use a combination of pictures and words to tell a story. Here are some common elements you'll find in a graphic novel:

1. Panels: These are the boxes that contain the artwork and text. They're like the "scenes" in a movie. Each panel moves the story forward.

2. Gutters: These are the spaces between the panels. They allow your imagination to fill in what happens between each scene.

3. Speech Balloons (or Speech Bubbles): These are the bubbles where you'll find the characters' dialogue. They're usually attached to a character with a little tail.

4. Thought Balloons: These are similar to speech balloons, but they contain a character's thoughts instead of what they're saying out loud. They often have a cloud-like shape or bubbles leading up to them.

5. Captions: These are boxes or rectangles separate from the panels that provide extra information, like narration, the location, or the time.

6. Sound Effects: These are words that represent sounds in the story. They're usually written in big, bold letters. For example, "BANG!" might be used to represent a gunshot.

7. Characters: Just like in any story, characters are the people, animals, or creatures the story is about.

8. Plot: This is what happens in the story. It includes the problems the characters face and how they solve them.

9. Setting: This is where and when the story takes place. It could be anywhere from a real city to a fantasy world.

Remember, a graphic novel combines all these elements to tell a story. The words and the pictures work together to give you a complete picture of what's happening. So, when you're reading a graphic novel, make sure to pay attention to both!

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