I have seen some amazing things in my life. Things that most people would never get to witness or experience in their lifetime.
But holy fucking shit this is up there with the most amazing things I have ever seen.
I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.Charles de Lint (via elige)
We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (via charmcityamy)
I have had an interest in making a childrens book for some time, and with my experience reading bedtime stories to my daughter, I couldnt hold back any longer.
Like much of my work, I like to do a lot of preparation. I like to see whats been done and how, and educate myself on the current expression of a particular medium before I get too far in. This helps a lot in understanding the market (not merely in a profit sense, but seeing what people consume and where to understand the publics interest)
Once I decide to embark on something like this, I begin the most basic concepting and brainstorm on the foundation of the project. In this case a kids book directed at a 3-5 year old audience (my daughters demographic), so while I will keep the specific details about my new project a secret, I will illustrate my process of development.
The initial conceptualization starts with a basic overview that can be contained in a single sentence. Such as “kid gets bit by radioactive bug and gains powers associated with that bug, then uses those powers to defend his school from bullies”. This kind of metaconcept will keep the story focused and provides a keystone for the rest of what will be built.
From here we make decisions for the standard “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions every story must answer. Skipping this in the early stages can lead to issues later. Keep the answers small, such as:
Who: kid with bug powers (instead of creating a character dossier in the beginning, keep everything as simple as possible, the rest of the info can be added later, as you go)
Once all of these basic questions are answered, a bit of development can be done on each one. I like to focus on the what, where, and when before getting too far into the who. Your character will have a stronger sense of being real if your development includes knowledge about the environment the character exists in.
Once I start getting a good picture in my head of the overall concept, tye next step is to expand it all another step. Will there be more characters (hopefully) and what roles will they fill (I like to use archetypes at first, refining and personalizing as I go) also will there be multiple locations? Or multiple times. These questions are important to discover and answer as early as possible, that way their presence in the story feels legit. This is just as important for key locations, landmarks, and features, that you are aware of them before you need to use them in your story.
All of this ends up being someing of a world building exercise, conceptually working out the world your story takes place in. From here, for my childrens book, I finally begin to draw out and visualize my characters and environment, creating basic models and sets, that while not used directly for the rinal product, will give you solid foundation to refer to and maintain consistency in proportion and proximity. Once the world building is complete and you have style guides on all of your locations and characters that you will need for you first book, its time to write a script for the story.
By this time, you should have a good sense of the initial pilot story, and the characters, so writing out an actual script should mostly just be labor. Make sure your script is a complete story and be prepared to revise it. Showing a second or third draft to someone else is a good idea, as its normal to be come too close to your story, and lose sight of it’s quality to an outside audience.
Its also important to look at each part of your story and ask yourself if its important to the forward movement of the story. If the scene or part does not move the story toward the end, then it should be left out. This can be a difficult process that often requires an editor to assist in understanding the story from an outside point of view.
Production of my kids book will follow standard workflow processes. At this point, I will storyboard the entire book, making adjustments and changes as need for the benefit of the story. After this point I usually find someone to review the storyboard with me and get a sense of how well they understand it, and make changes according to what I learn. Once those changes are made, I make mockups of the storyboard, digitally resizing them to the size I will draw the pages, which is at least 50% bigger than the size the art will be printed. Its important to know the size ratio of the pages the book will be pubished with, as well as the page count, and how/where the text will go. Once the pages are drawn out, they are to be scanned as roughs, and copies printed that will be inked, in case you make mistakes or want to make changes, you will have the ability to produce fresh “roughs” to do any redo work. Then the inks will aslo be scanned and then prepared for coloring. Color can be traditional mediums or digital, both are still viable and appreciated mediums, just make sure your methods match the visual style and message of your book (which should be determined in your world building stage)
After the pages are complete as far as the art goes, the lettering and text has to be done. While these days, it is often done digitally, lettering can still be done by hand, and often creates the feel that the lettering is part of the art. While digital lettering often looks too clean, or cold and mechanical. Again, it depends on the visual needs of your book.
With the lettering done, and the pages complete, the remaining pages must be designed. The bookcover, the backcover, and the inside pages; table of contents, title page, publication and copyright page all must be designed and ready along with the rest of the book. Then your manuscript is complete. Print off a private copy, as close to a real book as you can, and examine every minute detail, from how well your page fits on the paper, if there are errors in the art, color, spelling, placement, and overall presentation of the book. Get many opinions and reactions, especially from your target audience. If need be, make corrections to your master files and prepare a new final. Once everything is perfect, you will be ready to publish.
Thats another story, for another time.
Thanks for reading!