I wasn’t going to take this class. I wasn’t. Really!
I can’t draw, unless you count stick people. Then Mira sent an email that started me thinking. It was only 3 or 4 paragraphs long. The one that pulled me in was about thinking like an illustrator. Mira is great at persuasive writing.
I’m a writer. Why do I need to think like an illustrator? Because picture books are half words, half pictures. When I started writing 10 years ago, I could have 1000 words for a picture book. Now, I get 500, or less. Less is better!
With only 500 words, every word counts. As a writer, I want to cut the ones an illustrator can draw. In the 1st draft of my dog story, the dog was a Schnoodle. I loved the word Schnoodle, and Schnoodles are cute!
But my critique group said no, that the illustrator picks the dog. When/if this story is published, and I wrote it 6 years ago about my dog, a Border Terrier, the illustrator still chooses the dog. It could be a mutt, a Great Dane or even a Chihuahua. Really!
I hear this phrase a lot…‘leave room for the illustrator.’ What does that really mean? For me, don’t use adjectives or adverbs, or use them sparingly. Let the illustrator show those words instead. When writing , verbs are your best friend. So are specific nouns. The more specific the better.
Look at these 2 sentences: The big dog ran down the street at top speed. 10 words
The dachshund raced down Main St. 6 words
The second is shorter, gives a clearer picture. Writers edit to cut words, pick better words, and to add action. If you look at the sentences above: big dog= dachshund
ran + at top speed = raced
down the street= down Main St.
If an illustrator drew a picture of that second sentence, he/she could add details that’d I’d need at least 50 words to describe, probably more. Some of the books with the lowest word counts are done by author/illustrators. I love the hat books by Jon Klassen. He tells a great story with 100 words or less. How? Using the match between words and pictures.
That match is one reason I’m taking Mira’s class, to learn to think like an illustrator. Writing shorter and better is a great thing! The other reason is that 2 guides from my picture book class, Melissa and Sandra, took the illustration class last year. They learned a lot, had fun doing it, AND they can’t draw either. Melissa and Sandra almost sold me, but the sinker…I got a discount with early registration.
So come August 20th, I’ll start Mira’s class. I’ll let you know how it goes…finger’s crossed!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!