Do you dream of writing your own anime or manga series? Is there a story in you just waiting to get out? Writing that story is one thing... getting it published is yet another. Here's my list of dont's that will keep your manga from making it to print.
1. Name your characters John or Fred.No offense to the Johns and Freds out there, but traditional American names just don't carry over as well in the anime and manga world. Not that you can't Americanize your manga a bit if you like, but not so much your story loses it's manga-like appeal. For your best bet, give your manga characters unique names, preferably ones that have a powerful Japanese translation.
2. Pick your favorite manga. Then copy it.This is known as plagerism and not only is it illegal (think copyright laws), its also unethical. And if that isn't enough to sway you, it's boring. Been there, done that, bought the graphic novel. By all means let the great classics inspire you. Just be sure you use that inspiration to come up with something original.
3. Good conquers evil. Easily.There's a good guy. And there's a bad guy. But when the bad guy shows up, WHAM! The good guy lets him have it. The End. It's fine if you want your story to have a happy ending. But "ending" is the key word here. Give us a little nail-biting first. Stretch it out. Make us wonder. Is there really a way out for Mr. Good Guy? That's why they call it a "page-turner".
4. Fighting, fighting and only fighting.Remember in Dragonball Z when the Z-Fighters are facing off with Cell? Goku steps down and hands the battle off to Gohan. Woo-Hoo! I thought. This is it. But then it wasn't. Not quite anyway. In between those awesome battle scenes was quite a bit of dialog and while we all agree the fighting scenes rule, the dialog and plot are what made the story. By the time Gohan finally did defeat Cell, we were soooo ready. Add some plot to your story - your readers will love you for it.
5. Don't flesh out your characters.If someone asked you why you leave a light on at night, you might tell them it's because you have bad dreams. Or, perhaps you're just tired of stumping your toe in the dark. Whatever the reason, you have quirks and rituals that are a part of who you are. The same is true for your characters. Your hero can't just be angry. There should be a reason behind his temper. Was his village terrorized by the monsters he now hunts? Did he lose a loved one to the evil that plagues his land? You tell us.
6. Pretend your Quinten Tarantino.Don't get me wrong - I love Tarantino films and think he's quite the brilliant storyteller. But unless you can do the back and forth thing well, don't do it at all. There's nothing worse than a story that jumps around without tying all those loose ends together. Your reader wants to be lost in the story. Not just lost.
7. Use profanity. Repeatedly, as in all the time.Okay, sometimes, it makes sense for a few @!%#'s to come out, depending of course on your story and the audience you're writing for. But that can't be all they say. Maybe one of your characters has a mouth like a sailor or maybe there's a tough gang that likes to throw the expletives around. But the entire cast? All the time? Give your characters a vocabulary... please.
8. Let the ending just sort of... die.Through pages and pages, the great warrior Tinshen had tracked the Sanmai masters to the farthest ends of the planet. He was tired, broken, but finally... finally the great battle would begin. Or so you thought. He finds them, but then... they all agree that the conflict was silly, shake hands and walk away. If you're building up to a big bang, don't forget to throw it in before you end your story.
9. Pretend the artwork doesn't matter.Manga and anime rely heavily on the artwork and if yours isn't good, your manga will probably never see a display rack or shelf. But what if you can't draw? If writing is your skill, that's fine - you can either collaborate with an outside artist or submit your story without any artwork at all. Most publishers have the resources to match your story with a suitable artist if they decide to publish. Just don't send in your own stick figure sketches or anime tracings. It won't help your cause.
10. Let your story take place in Utopia.Here in the land of plenty, no one suffers. Everyone likes.. well, everyone! There's no bad guys, bad food or hurt feelings. Everything is just grand. All the time. While you don't want your story to be overly depressing or defeating, you do want to give your characters some obstacles to overcome. Whether it's overcoming stage fright to audition for the big play or mastering the ancient art of Shorin-Ji Ryu to defeat the great Dragon, there needs to be some conflict to keep your readers hooked.