Tuesday evening, I was back at The Writers' Loft for my second time in four days. (I feel the start of a really good routine; again, what a welcoming writerly community.)
I was attending a Picture Book Dummy and Storyboard Workshop which was especially enticing to me because we'd actually make a dummy of our own picture book manuscript. Anna Staniszewski led an informative class, covering all the bases of dummy and storyboard benefits.
- Dummies get one thinking visually. They show if there's too much or not enough action.
- Page turns affect story pacing/suspense, slowing it down or speeding it along.
- You test each page's emphasis by deciding what to illustrate.
- Explore the illustrator potential. Enough variety? The same setting doesn't have to mean the same action.
- Give the illustrator room to tell the story. (Don't we all love picture books where the words tell one story and the illustrations tell another, yet they sync perfectly.)
Now I previously knew that picture book dummies were supposed to be useful. But, in the back of my mind, I thought, "Not necessary for a writer," as I revised my stories again and again and again.
Here's what I learned from the act of actually making a dummy from my own manuscript:
- First off, it feels mahvelous to see your text as an actual picture book.
- Even when you can't draw to save your life, you can scribble the gist of an illustration and it will prove extremely helpful.
- Even when you cut every word you think you can, once the words are on the page, you'll be able to cut more.
So now I know, I'll still revise and revise, but in a much smarter way -- with a dummy.