How to Create a Story: 8-page Romance Manga



In this series, we explain the process of creating the theme storyboards for the Storyboard Category of Clip Studio Paint’s International Comic/Manga School Contest 2020.

Explanation: Manga Script Dr. Goto

This article is also available in video format (Japanese).

● What is the International Comic/Manga School Contest?

The International Comic/Manga School Contest is a manga, comic and illustration contest open to students worldwide. Winners can receive cash prizes, creative software, pen tablets, and even a chance for their artwork to be featured in media publications! The contest is also an opportunity to have your work judged and critiqued by professional creators and boost your skills. Four new categories, such as the Storyboard Category and Webtoon Category, have been added this year, with additional prize opportunities.

Make an 8-page manga story in 20 minutes!

The storyboard for the contest is eight pages long. Applicants must create a shonen or shoujo manga with the theme “Promise,” based on one of the two storyboards.

This article explains how the plot of the romance manga storyboard was written.

Note: You can find the previous article about the plot of the sports manga here.

Creating plot points

As in the previous sports manga plot, the following three elements from the contest requirements will be included in our outline.

・ Scenes that create a visual narrative

・ Universal subjects that anyone can empathize with as much as possible

・ A story that makes you think about the idea of promise after reading it

 The restrictions of shoujo manga

Shoujo manga, when made for an international audience, is actually quite a challenging task. This is because the culture of Japanese shoujo manga is unique.

The main setting of a shoujo manga is a school. This means that there are many situations and settings that you might not know about unless you have experience with the Japanese school system, such as the role of school clubs and the senpai-kouhai relationship. Also, the idea of picking on your crush until you can hold hands with them is said to be a particularly Japanese idea because public displays of affection in Japan are uncommon.

So for this plot, we should avoid these kinds of situations. This way, anyone in the world can empathize with the story.

Resolving plot points

We will incorporate these three elements into the plot.

 A promise for shoujo manga

The main character will be a girl because it is a shoujo manga. Drawing a character who is "earnestly fulfilling a promise" is very on point for a shoujo manga.

The story will tell whether the promise is fulfilled or not, so it can be one of the following: "The promise is fulfilled, and the heart is saved." or "The promise is not fulfilled, and the heart is broken." For this story, we want to move the hearts of our audience, so let's go with a positive ending where the promise is fulfilled.

 Moving hearts with a promise

Think about what kind of promise needs to be made for the protagonist to be invested in it. Promises that take years to fulfill or are made to someone important are likely to have a larger impact.

For example, a story of a protagonist who has kept their promise to their lover for a long time is likely to resonate with many people. The climax for this kind of story is generally just before or when the promise is fulfilled.

The scene of the promise being fulfilled is not drawn directly but implied. The story will end immediately before the promise, giving the reader a chance to linger on the promise a bit more.

Thinking of situational scenes

Now that you have decided on a how to resolve the plot, think about how the story will progress.

 Choosing the promise

What kind of promise will the protagonist make to their partner?

Because it is a promise with a partner, it can be fulfilled by them starting to date or getting married. This means that at the beginning of the story, the relationship with this partner is pre-dating or pre-marriage. So it would make sense to choose a partner that was already close to the protagonist because it seems a bit unreasonable to keep long-term promises with those they don't care about. You need a certain amount of affection to keep a long-term promise. Marriage can be considered as a promise between partners. Furthermore, as there are circumstances in which we cannot marry our partner right away, we make a promise to each other.

For example, if the characters are still children, you can make a promise to marry someone if you meet them again when you are all grown up, you will have to wait until that time. Let's make this our plot's rough promise.

 Thinking up obstacles

This story will culminate in a promise of marriage, so the story begins with the protagonist as an adult. The couple have been waiting for a long time, so if an obstacle were to present itself now before the promise is fulfilled, the story would be even more entertaining.

Let's say that due to something trivial where they butt heads, the two get angry with each other, and they forget their promise or pretend to forget their promise with each other. However, they still really like each other. This is an obstacle in which the mind becomes a barrier to the promise.

The prospect of saying this promise out loud as an adult is embarrassing even though it was said so candidly when they were children. Here, the characters will feel each other out and see whether or not they remember the promise they made to each other.

Creating the plot

With all the details, we have put together the following plot.


When the main character was a child, she and her friend promised that they would meet again in a certain place and would get married. As these children grew up, they became busy with work and could no longer speak about the promise they made to each other when they were younger. However, they are still quite close, so they try to feel each other out to see if the other remembers or not. The promised day comes without them really knowing each other's true feelings. They both brace themselves and meet at the appointed time. The outcome of which will not be revealed. The story ends in a way that allows the reader to imagine how the scene resolves.


As we did not draw the scene where the promise is fulfilled, the climax of the story is at the peak of the tension just before it. This plot evokes the uneasy feeling of "I want to see if my partner remembers our promise... but what if they don't?" and this feeling peaks when the couple meets at the appointed place.

When creating a storyboard, consider how much of the plot you can express visually in graphics.

Junpei Goto: Manga Script Doctor/Tokyo Storyboard Tank Representative


Goto’s Twitter:

Goto’s note:

Who is Manga Script Dr. Goto?

Dr. Goto teaches techniques and tips for creating comics in a variety of genres, including shonen comics, shoujo comics, love story comics, traveling to a new world comics, etc. He also discusses manga, illustration, how to use Clip Studio on the iPad, etc.

What is Tokyo Storyboard Tank?

A classroom and research center in Japan that teaches how to create manga-specific stories and design comic book page layouts.


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