Thursday, January 28, 2010

Calculating new things

I'm going out for coffee, and I shall take a blank dummy book and scribble down a new idea, something that Alexis and I have been talking about in the last few days. It's one of those that need pacing and calculating before creating characters and words.

People sometimes ask if the pictures or the words come first when I make picture books. In fact, generally the concept comes first, then it's maths - working out the actions that will make up the narrative and pacing them onto 12 spreads or thereabouts - and when that is worked out, I'll cast some characters to act the parts, then I'll stage the whole thing on paper, with rehearsals, mistakes, and surprises, note down the dialogue, and in the end it's all edited and tidied up a bit, and it's a book.
And in-between, clever people tell me when it's not working as well as it could.

What does not really happen is that I start with a character, or a bit of writing. By the time I write or draw, there is always a structure in place that wants to be filled.

I thought you'd like to read this if you're the sort of person who feels daunted by the idea that you're supposed to make meaningful stories out of characters, characters out of thin air, and improvise from scratch. I used to find that daunting, now I know it's just not the way I do things. I don't draw for fun, I draw when there's something that needs drawing. I make things up for fun all the time, though.

Off to scribble blobs and numbers into a blank booklet for an hour or so!


Candice Hartsough McDonald said...

that is good advice for writing stores. i am finding it daunting to start myself. i know i have them in there, but can't find a way to start ...

Kirsty said...

"I don't draw for fun, I draw when there's something that needs drawing."
Me too! (and I thought there was something wrong with that - glad to see there's not!)

Viviane Schwarz said...

I think one needs to draw a lot to be an illustrator, either just for fun or out of necessity. The necessity is also to understand and practise certain aspects of image-making. It's kind of hard if the necessity of drawing is no fun at all. But if the drawing is no fun without necessity, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong.

I think this compares:
Some people only talk when they feel they have something to say, that doesn't necessarily make them less eloquent than people who talk to themselves.
Some people stay fit by doing physical labour that serves some purpose, some go to the gym to stay fit, and if you'd swap them around they might both feel silly.
Some people write because they want to be writers, some people write because they want to write something.
It's good to know your motivations, else you're never satisfied no matter how hard you work. With honest motivation comes inspiration, and confidence, and method.

I say, anyway.

Kirsty said...

Good analogies there.