Sunday, March 3, 2013

Working on Book 2 | Beatrice and Bear | Story Development

I decided to do some posts about my second picture book, which is due to be published spring 2014.  I can't share a lot right now, as I'm still working on the final paintings, but I thought it would be fun to talk about story development, art supplies, illustration processes, etc.  I'm doing a better job this time documenting the whole process from idea to final book, and felt these would make good topics for blog posts.

Little Dog Lost is a based on a true story, so in the case of my first book, story development was based on research and intended audience (aimed at very young children.)  It sold as part of a two-book deal, the second book to be determined, a project that would interest both the publisher and me.

I find that all of my story ideas begin with a drawing or a painting. Even Little Dog Lost began with an illustration created for Illustration Friday.  So for the second book, I went back through some of my sketches and illustrations and found one in particular that I felt had a strong narrative quality, that "told a story."  I did a few more sketches based on this idea and shared them with my editor Nancy Paulsen and art director Cecilia Yung.  Once I got the okay to proceed, the next step was to write the manuscript and create a thumbnail storyboard.  Writing the story for me is a combination of words and sketches, both very much connected. But at this point, it's important to focus on the text.  Again my agent Teresa Kietlinski was a fantastic critique partner -- I sent her my first draft of the manuscript and she wrote back with some very good insights and ideas which helped me develop the story.  Once I had a good manuscript, it was time to create the thumbnail storyboard, using a template with all 32 pages ready for sketching.  I went through many of these storyboard templates, drawing and re-drawing pages, cutting and moving around sequences, etc. The goal at this point is to determine the story's pacing and the best places for page turns.  It all has to fit within 32 pages, and you want to tell it in a way that is balanced, keeps momentum, and creates interest in what's going to happen next.

I shared the manuscript and storyboard with Nancy and Cecilia, and was ready to move on to the next step: creating the dummy.  Now quick sketches become more detailed and developed.  The initial dummy is the first time seeing words and illustrations together, as they would appear in the final book, but it is still very much a work in progress.  Writing a book is truly a collaborative effort and the feedback I received from both Nancy and Cecilia helped me develop a much stronger, tighter second dummy.

And I'm now at the final art stage, working on the illustrations.  On my next post, I'll talk about some of my favorite art supplies for creating the illustrations.  Needless to say, I'm CRAZY about art supplies!


  1. Very interesting, thanks for sharing

  2. I work very similarly. It is so helpful to have the story mapped out in an organized fashion.
    Good luck on your next assignment.

  3. Thank you for sharing, very interesting post =) =) =)