Three Times IS a Charm!
Or the more you do, the more you learn
Shooting for a More Comic Book-like Picture Book
When I wrote the first two Little Brown Spider books over 20 years ago, I approached it a little differently than I do today. Like a traditional comic book, I wanted each Little Brown Spider book to be 22 pages. And like traditional comic books, especially of the Copper and Bronze ages, I wanted to limit the use of double-page spreads. I felt like those type of spreads worked best for big, momentous scenes and should be limited. Good for comic book storytelling. Not so good, as I learned, for picture books.
However, with those constraints in mind, that's how I wrote and sketched the first two stories. Fast forward almost two decades to when those initial stories were being developed into actual books with an actual artist. As I went along, limitations of this approach surfaced.
Breathe Little Spider...Breathe
For starters, I ended up adding more to the stories, both in character development and exposition. Plus, I spent a lot more time learning and understanding picture book storytelling and flow than I had done when I initially wrote the books.
I also tend to update a script based on the final artwork. These first two LBS stories were no exception. However, given the single page designs I sent off to Cristian, I often painted myself into a corner when it came to expanding things. Also, at 22-pages of mostly single page scenes, the story felt dense. Too dense. And rushed. Let's look at an example.
Below is a page from the second Little Brown Spider book, The Giant Caterpillar, as it was originally written and produced.
OK, as a single page, it's fine. Simple and to the point. But it wasn't going to work with the new updates and direction I wanted to take the books. Here's that same scene with a reworked layout and expanded narrative.
A Change in the Book Writing Process
Now, after completing the first two Little Brown Spider books, I approach the writing a little differently. Hopefully, it translates well for book number three!
See you next time!