Thursday, February 10, 2011

Books are Long!

So, on my first pass getting the story for my children't book down in print, I estimated that the book would end up being about 20 pages long.  Curious, I went to some of Vivian's best books and discovered that the ones she enjoys the most, and the ones I like and am most drawn to, are about 25-35 pages long.  So now I am working on lengthening my book without it becoming too wordy.  This is good.  It means I can go overboard with the illustration a bit if I want.  I'm trying to tell the story in pictures as much as I can and use text to fill in the blanks.

Now, I'm not trying to compare my planned book to any of the classics we have on Vivian's bookshelf, but if I notice that the kind of book I am working on is generally longer than what I had planned, I think it is a good idea to find a way to add more illustration to the book to increase its length and tell a better story. 

I also may be limiting myself too much.  Just because I am basing my book on Roscoe, a real-life bulldog, doesn't mean I'm writing his biography.  If something helps to convey the story that didn't necessarily happen to him and me, isn't it legitimate.  I'm not doing journalism here.  I'm telling a story based on the life of my dog.  I'll have to keep a critical eye on the story (thank goodness I have a critic or two living with me) and make sure everything rings true. 

I started thumbnails for the book today, and I've got what I think are some good ideas.  Conveying emotion through a bulldog's face is going to be more difficult than one might think without the character becoming too cartoony.  I'm trying different ways to communicate anxiety, contentment, happiness, playfullness, confusion, and fear without turning Roscoe into the bulldog from old "Tom & Jerry" cartoons.  Thankfully, I've figured out how to reliably draw a cute bulldog puppy.  Is cute enough for a good story?  Probably not.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Protagonist

Here he is, the star of the children's book I began working on this week: Roscoe!  He went to doggy heaven a year ago this week, and working on this story now seems appropriate.  I got all emotional just working out the story this afternoon.  I'm going to tell his story.  I have plenty of memories to mine for material.

Of course, I wouldn't dream of writing a children's book without illustrating it myself.  I'm spending my time working on story and teaching myself how to draw bulldogs in various degrees of anthropomorphism until I find one that I like best.  It's tons of fun!

I'd like to thank all my friends who sent me photos of Roscoe to work with.  Mom, Nancy, and Danni so far.  And a special cyber shout-out to my sister-in-law who posted a short animal-drawing tutorial over at the site which hosts her online comic.  You should check it out (especially if you are a fan of Final Fantasy 7 and enjoy fanfic).  Here's the link for the tutorial, and here's the link for her comic!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme

I'm beginning work on a children's book and one of the questions I ran into as I began was whether or not to tell the story in rhyme like a poem.  Initially I thought that it would be too much trouble and would require a heck of a lot of work.  Won't it just be simpler to tell the story in prose?  Isn't it easier to be economical with words when you don't have to search for the right ones to fulfill the requirements of rhythm, meter, and rhyme? 

As I examined some of my favorite children's books, however, I found that the ones I loved included both styles, but those which achieved a tone similar to the one I hope to strike tended to be prose.  However, this is just a tendency and is not true 100% of the time. 

To see what happened, I wrote out the same story in both styles.  I was correct when I assumed that writing in verse was more time consuming, but it wasn't as difficult as I had feared.  Of course, I can't say that it was very good either.  It was actually quite easy to see when I was forcing a word, phrase or verse.  At some points my attempt screamed, "ROUND HOLE!  SQUARE PEG!"  With practice and work, I'm sure I could find better ways to say the same things.  Everyone revises, right?  No one gets it perfect on the first try.

When I re-wrote the same story in prose, however, I actually used more words, not fewer.  Prose allowed me to express things more clearly in a manner I thought would benefit the story.  On the other hand, I found I could eliminate whole sentences with the right drawing.  Substituting a picture for a paragraph was easier for me when I hadn't taken the time to worry about whether the paragraph had the correct rhyme scheme or meter.  By writing in prose, I could express the emotions and feelings of the characters first, and then, after composing a drawing that told those emotions, I could eliminate the prose altogether. 

So what do you think?  Leave a comment and let me know what kinds of children's stories you enjoyed the most.  What do you think are the pros and cons of prose and verse?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Favorite Tweets During the Super Bowl

Anthony C
christina aguilera = awful. Just replay the Whitney Houston one from 1991 every year. Can't top that one.
The Dark Lord
Did Christina Aguilera just screw up America's National Anthem? Wow, and I thought it was bad when I screwed up trying to kill that baby...
Coin toss CEREMONY? Just throw the damned coin already. Good lord, this is a sport, not a damn state dinner.
Christina's back in the green room being told that probably no one noticed.
John Madden is sexting?
Karyn Bosnak
Oh, Cammie feeding A-Rod is just so sweet. I wonder if she wipes his ass too.
Rapists never win
Worst about commercials: Danica Patrick is a damn good race car driver & to her sponsor, she's just boobs.
Aaron Gouveia
The Budweiser Tiny Dancer ad was among the dumbest I've ever seen. Anyone with half a brain would give that a .
Aaron Gouveia
Atta boy Scotty! RT @ Meanwhile in the luxury box Camron Diaz is holding A Rod's hand as she takes him to the potty
Doug Benson
Somebody just scored.
Keith Olbermann
Enjoy the Aguilera lyrics-optional version of The Anthem before the NFL makes them take it down
I hope John Travolta comes out to dance at some point.
My daughter just asked to turn off the TV. I know this half time show sucks
Usher to save the day!!!!!
Darth Vader
That half time show did more to crush the morale of the rebellion in 30 minutes than I ever did.
Ben Ward
And so, in 2011, the half time show proved once and for all that Twitter was the greatest tool ever invented for disaster relief.
RT @: Oh for christ sake Mini. F*** you.   [edited by Z - keeping it family friendly!]
RT @: Nothing like an Eminem endorsement to make it even more certain that I'll never drive a .  
It is not a Superbowl party unless your daughter throws up all over herself and the carpet
The Dark Lord
Only event of the night worth mentioning: Darth Vader car commercial. That's it kids... come to the dark side.
Chloe Angyal
So, out of interest, are men offended when commercials depict them as d***-ruled sex-obsessed idiots? [edited by Z]
Darth Vader
Keith Olbermann
Well, it was entertaining anyway, and who can argue with a win by a team that exists thanks to NFL Socialism!
Dave Telep
Now driving a Volkswagen, drinking a Pepsi Max and wearing Sketchers with Kenny G CD blasting!
Anthony C
going to bed? no way! It's time for now. Can't wait to go to work tomorrow.
On the heels of Green Bay's dramatic victory, not to be outdone, Brett Favre has text pics of his penis to thousands of his closest friends.
It's ok Pittsburgh fans...there's always Baseball seaso...oh...wait...sorry...
The Good Men Project
We Make the A**holes. (but the Superbowl shows them how to lose.) -
[edited by Z]