Monday, July 20, 2009

PAGE BY PAGE

I didn't wait long for Yuyi's feedback and when I got it I was very excited. Hi Kristen, here are a few comments, very minimal. I think that you should start planning on breaking the text. Based on her comments, I made my revisions and when I was happy with them I was surprised by my subsequent inaction. I sat and sat. I looked at my text. I sat some more. I looked around the house...

This phase was throwing me for a loop. As I stared at my words, each sentence demanded an illustration. After all, I am primarily an illustrator. There are 834 words in my story and approximately 75 sentences. A 75 page picture book was not going to fly. No - I wanted to break my text into 15 illustrations (14 two page spreads and one single page). I decided to ask Yuyi for some tips. Here are a few things she offered to help drive the process:

• Break the text so that it makes the reader want to turn the page to find out more.

• Think of balancing the amount of text on each page spread.

• Think of what makes a different scene every page.

• Think of the different scenes that will develop according to how you break the text.

I printed my text out and began penciling in possible page breaks. It was pretty straight forward, but I wanted a better feeling for it, so I studied some picture books to expose this process even more. I looked at page breaks, observing my feelings at the end of each page. Did I want to turn the page? Did I care? Again this was helpful, but I needed to be more a part of the process. I decided to take "unbroken", published picture book text and see if I could break it down myself. Since I already had the answers - finished picture books - I could then see how close I came.

At this point, I was almost buried in picture books. I chose Stellaluna and The Great Adventures of Wo Ti for my page break experiment because these books are more story-like and have a similar format to the one I am creating. I typed each story into my computer in a big block and printed them out. It was a fun challenge. My page breaks were very close. Stellaluna threw me because I didn't realize it had more pages than a standard picture book until after I divided up the text. Even then I was almost right on. In areas where I missed the mark I was able to study the difference between my version and the published version. It was very enlightening.

This little exercise gave me the insight I needed to return to my own story. Once again I broke down my text while thinking about imagery and getting the reader to turn the page. When that was done I began my storyboard thumbnails.

While doing the thumbnails I discovered areas of emphasis that needed to shift. Sometimes an image seemed too similar to the image just before and I needed to focus attention on a different part of the text for that page. Sometimes I needed to move a line of text to the page before or the page after. All the while it was important to vary the point of view to make the images interesting. Creating a small storyboard is a great way to look at the overall relationships between illustrations. When things looked flat I thought about looking at the scene from a different angle - high, low, side, etc.

So, this time my feedback is going to take a little longer. Yuyi will be gone for a couple weeks. While she is away, I will be working on three other illustrations. I hope to post a finished one soon.

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