Week One: Planning your book
Now you have your theme, your characters, a solid understanding of your setting, and an idea of your images transitioning from page to page. This week I want to show you a few examples of well planned books that I hope will inspire you as you plan your own book.
Have you decided on the size of your book? The format of horizontal, vertical, or square? Once I have an idea of the components—text and images, I divide up the text deciding where the page turns will be and keep in mind the images I want to use for each page. I decide which pages in the book need the largest images and the most text. I want to use a fairly large font size for the text and keeping the size of the text in mind gives me a rough idea of space to consider when illustrating. I've illustrated most of my books with full spreads, but spots and single pages are also useful in storytelling.
I want to show you A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna. She chose an unusual format—a horizontal book with the binding across the top. When we come to the spread of the Eiffel Tower, it is evident that this format was chosen to accommodate this spread.
This story slowly transitions from the lion expecting to be unwelcome in the city, exploring the city, being accepted, and finding the place where he belongs/wants to be. Not much happens in the story. Yet the small incremental changes per page lead to a large shift in the lion's outlook.
As I am developing my book, over a course of week, I add thoughts, drawings, and descriptions of ideas which to my mind. Then I streamline my ideas and make sure the transitions from page to page tell the story smoothly.
Here is Simm's Taback's process of making a dummy for There Was an Old Lady that Swallowed a Fly. You can see his process of making thumbnails and then going to a dummy. His project is more defined since he is working with a set story.
Some questions to consider:
1) Where are the big scenes in your book? Where is the climax of your story?
2) Are there moments to accent?
3) What pages have the most words? What text size will you use?
4) Are there parts of the book that need slowed down?
5) Are there parts of the book that need sped up?
6) Does each page flow into the next page
7) Are there any spots of your book that stick out and give you a little nagging feeling?
Working on a children's book means that you will be juggling a lot of moving parts. An idea may come to you half way through your process that undoes previous decisions. In these cases, I want to encourage you to choose the path that makes the book better. So, you can carefully plan your book but always be ready to incorporate positive changes.
The Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice
In the video below is an example of a dummy I made in 2003 for The Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice. This is the actual dummy I used to sell this book. My daughter got ahold of my dummy and added her drawings. I don't recommend pitching a dummy to an editor like that. But I was in a casual meeting with this editor.
The last dummy I show here was just for me to work out the illustration style and not for show. It would have terrified the editor or publisher to see my ideas all over the place, but still it was necessary for my process.
Week One: Assignment
Some uses for dummies are:
1)To formulate the flow of the story.
2)To work out the illustrations.
3)To pitch to a publisher.
4)To work out decision and directions in the book.
5)To proof before printing.
This week your assignment is to create two book dummies. The first dummy should contain every idea that you have about your book—this is where you can stay organized and keep all your ideas in one spot. Your second book dummy is your finished dummy. This is the one you would show to an editor or read to children.
Please post your second book dummy on Sunday and post each page spread. Don't worry if it's very rough—let us see the whole book. If you have handwritten the text please type it in the comments so we have no trouble reading it. Please ask us questions when you are posting your work so that we can give you helpful feed back.
Have fun!! I'm looking forward to seeing your creations!
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© 2018 by Kristen Balouch