It feels like I have illustrated this book a thousand times. In reality, it is about 7 times. Still, I was never happy with the composition of each page and the end result. Everyone who saw previous iterations loved them...but still, I knew they weren't quite up to par with my vision for it. This illustration belongs to the first book I wrote that gave me the confidence to pursue writing and illustrating children's books. I love this story. It took a while, and a good amount of learning, but I think I have finally 'cracked' it. I am finally as excited by the illustrations as I am the story. I am almost finished the dummy for this book and I can't wait to submit it. Treasures on this page include the Stanley Cup, a stethoscope, an anchor, the medicine wheel for the Anishnaabe (Toronto First Nations people) on a surfboard, and the nautical flag shown means "pilot on board". (hehe). There is a running nautical gag throughout the book. Lots for kids to enjoy and enough for parents and adults to appreciate even if you are reading it over and over again.
A new look for an old book
Fantastic Mr. Fox
This was for a twitter #daily___doodle, but I used the opportunity to really practice what I had been learning lately about composition, perspective, and light and shadow. I originally had the chicken in Mr. Fox's arms pulling away scared, but prefer this version where she has fallen in love with his charms and would go anywhere with him. Sly fox.
Reblogged from a Tumblr page - tychuckpalahniuk which was reblogged from cultureprn.
A friend in my writing group passed this along to me. A bible of sorts for aspiring writers:
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’d roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. Traffic was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example:
“During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs Forget and Remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast. Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.
- posted by KD.
Getting to the finish line is always so hard. I think it is for a few reasons. I am on the 7th iteration of creating the illustrations from my picture book "Way to Go, Kid!". I love the story. So, it is a good start - but as I get to the end of illustrating - I find I am not entirely happy with it. Early on, in the initial versions, I rushed it and did it too fast - plus it was all in watercolour - the pages too large and unworkable for me, and the page numbering and double page spreads - not as well planned as they needed to be. This time I have it much better. I am mostly happy with it, though as I near the end and have spent so many years on it I find myself still not as happy as I'd like to be. Everyone else likes it. They liked the last version too. The problem of course is as time passes and I learn more, I learn things I think could make it even better. My technique improves over that time resulting in a lingering dissatisfaction that ---it could be better. It is a never-ending cycle and the only standard I can ever meet is - good enough, which like most artists is not good enough! I can't wait to begin to send this baby out into the publishing world. I also think that is also part of the problem of finishing it. I have no excuse not to send it out for judgement into a very small and selective world and that too is nerve-wracking. And of course, it is saying goodbye to the creative portion of the work. Saying goodbye in many ways to the story - at least for a while. That said, I have a good 2-3 weeks of work left on it but I am going to try to enjoy every single minute of it. Then on to a story that is more Middle Grade chapter book than anything but it has been patiently waiting for my attention.
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”
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