What I have discovered in the video world is this: a second is a long, long, long time, as unbelievable as this may sound. For instance, it only takes a second to get a character to perform a complete walk cycle even though the cycle itself is composed of ten different poses—at the very least.
Not only is the length of a second a revelation to me but so is the notion of telling a story through moving pictures and words. Compared to writing and illustrating a book, making a video is like working in 3-D. Very soon it becomes very apparent where the flaws are in the story, the redundancies, the inconsistencies, and the problems with pacing.
In the video mentioned above "The Girl, the Old Man, and the Book," very quickly I realized that I didn't need as many words as I had originally planned. The images made the words redundant. I also didn't need as many images as I had thought. Some of them seemed to change the focus of the story I was trying to tell. Finally, to my dismay, I could see that in some places the pacing was all wrong, necessitating my redoing whole sequences.
It is too bad that it is so darn difficult making a video. If were not, I'd suggest every author turn his or her story into one. Instantly, glaringly, blushingly you'd see the flaws in the story. But there are ways to transform your picture book story so that you can see where it needs fixing.
One way I have used is to make a 32-page book of folded paper. I then cut up the story and distribute it over the pages. (I usually use Scotch restickable glue for this. This glue is the same used in post-its and comes as a glue stick.) If the story works, it will flow from page to page. If not, you will instantly see where you have to do some repairs. And because you have used restickable glue, you can easily move the snippets of your story around until you have it just right. It is the act of transforming your story into a 3-D object that allows you to view the story with new eyes. With each turn of the page, you will see what works and what doesn't.
Below is the next installment in the on-going series "Scrapbook." I began serializing this story in my September 30th, 2012 blog. Just click on the images below to enlarge.