Guest Blogger · Writing Tips

#MondayBlogs Cartoons Make You a Better Writer


I love cartoons, and I love comic books and manga, and I’m very open about my love for these things. That being said, cartoons and comic books and manga are often depicted as things for children…something I obviously disagree with. J There are many reasons to love cartoons, and today, author Grant Goodman gives us yet another reason to love them. It helps with your writing.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Cartoons Make You a Better Writer by Grant Goodman

When I sat down to write the first Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve novel, what really drove me was my love of cartoons. I wanted to create—in written form—the cartoon series I always wanted to see.

I grew up with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was glued to the sofa when they stormed the Technodrome to fight Shredder or when they teamed up with Casey Jones. Each episode had cool fight scenes, a sci-fi invention, and at least one funny line from Michelangelo. The turtles were my first obsession and they propelled me to join a martial arts school when I was in elementary school.


My elementary school mornings and weekends were filled with Tom and Jerry Kids, Inspector Gadget, X-Men, Spiderman, and Batman: The Animated Series. While most of them were in short story format, the X-Men, Spiderman, and Batman series began to introduce me to the idea that 30 minute cartoons could build a larger story. Spiderman had “The Alien Costume” arc, which gave Venom’s origin story over the course of three episodes. But that wasn’t quite enough. I wanted a longer storyline.

The first episode of Dragonball Z aired when I was in 6th grade and when I saw it, my head nearly exploded. A series in which nearly every episode built off of the last. A cast of characters who did martial arts AND threw fireballs. An entire universe of heroes and villains, legends and lore.

DBZ led me into the wide, wild catalog of Japanese animation that revealed an entire cultural art form that offered a great deal of respect to storytelling in animated form. I watched Vash the Stampede try everything he could do to avoid taking lives in Trigun, I saw Miyazaki’s phenomenal Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and I was completely swept away by Fullmetal Alchemist.

All of it—every episode of every series I ever watched—has somehow contributed to my abilities as a writer, and it will for you, too. You learn how to plot an action scene that matters, because you see plenty of them that don’t. You learn how to keep two characters pining for each other in order to build tension between them. You learn the importance of a cliffhanger to keep your audience hooked.

Most importantly, however, watching cartoons will teach you how to keep your imagination active, because without a strong imagination, you’re going to write something boring.

If you’re aspiring to write a MG or YA sci-fi/fantasy action series, my best advice to you is to watch cartoons. Lots of them. Go watch the first season of The Legend of Korra for a masterclass in serious-but-not-pitch-black YA storytelling. Seek out Samurai Jack for how to do fight scenes that flow.

This may be the only time anyone in your life tells you this: stop reading for a bit and start watching!

Grant GoodmanBio:

Grant Goodman is the author of the Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve novels, a series for readers anywhere between 9 and 900 years old. His YA lit blog, November Notebook, is for teens, adults, ghosts, robots, unicorns, dragons, and aliens. He teaches middle school English in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in November, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at


16 thoughts on “#MondayBlogs Cartoons Make You a Better Writer

    1. Chris, thank you! As a fellow story-reading ape, I fully approve of your site! Who’s your all-time favorite author?

  1. Thundercats and He-Man got me started. I vaguely remember a few two-parters in there, but I agree that it wasn’t until the superhero stuff and anime that I began seeing longer story arcs. I’d like to say DBZ was what started my intro into anime, but it was Sailor Moon since that was what was on while I got ready for school. Too bad Cartoon Network doesn’t do the daytime anime blocks any more. That got me into a lot of series that have influenced my writing. It also taught me that sometimes you have to be patient and hunt for the rest of a series. They never finished airing Rouroni Kenshin and YuYu Hakusho from what I could tell.

    1. Hey Charles! Cartoon Network’s anime blocks were HUGE for me, too. When they finally started airing “new” episodes of DBZ after years of repeats, it was one of the best days of my middle school life.

      Later, I discovered shows like FLCL, Texhnolyze, and Neon Genesis Evangelion that all made me re-think how storytelling can unfold. Are any of those on your “best of” lists in your mind?

      1. Never saw Texhnolyze and FLCL was fun. I actually got into Evangelion with DVD’s, so I watched them on TV with a lot of complaining. Think I damaged a friendship because he liked Rei and I was an Auska fan. My friends and I actually started on DVD’s like Vampire Hunter D and Ninja Scroll. Then Fushigi Yuugi turned up along with DBZ and Tenchi.

        Hard to pick a best of. I love Great Teacher Onizuka, Desert Punk, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and the list keeps going. Just got into D-Grayman with some DVD’s on sale. Fullmetal Alchemist is a big one for me since I have both series and the manga. Even after all these years, I still have trouble with the ‘Hughes incident’.

    1. Thank you, Shannon! I didn’t realize that you were a fellow manga and anime fan, too. I used to write reviews for a now-defunct site called MangaRecon. The site’s editors would mail me 4-6 review copies a month. That was a pretty fantastic side-gig while it lasted.

      Have you read any standout manga lately? I haven’t picked up a new one in a few months and could use a fresh story.

      1. I LOVE manga. Read it all the time. That being said, I’m a sucker for shōjo manga … 😛 I’m not sure how interested in that you are, BUT Sad Love Story by Shin Ji Sang is…well…heart breaking. I think it’s a great story, beyond a YA romance.

    1. There’s a great space that cartoons can inhabit that other shows have a hard time fitting into. South Park’s social commentary (and crudeness) are always fascinating and SpongeBob is pure fun with a pinch of insanity.

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