Thursday, March 11, 2010

Words and Pictures

The relationship of words and pictures have some special magic. Somewhere between them lies the true story for me. I've been tinkering/struggling with 3 childrens books off and on for about 6 years. I've never had any formal education on how to actually write and illustrate a book but this week came across some advice that went right to my heart. Victoria Thorne a new colorgirl follower, has been given some incredible advice to follow by author and illustrator M.B. Goffstein. If you aren't familiar with Goffstein's work, you most likely are and don't know it. Time Magazine has said about her- "Goffstein is a minimalist, but her text and pictures carry the same emotional freight as William Blake's admonishment to see the world in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour" 

Here is her advice- 
How to Write and Illustrate a Picture Book
Copyright © M.B. Goffstein 2009
To Victoria Thorne, with love
To make a 32-page picture book, take your favorite book and count the pages.
Count them over and over.
The pages of a book are divisible by 8, preferably by 16.
If you have a 24-page book, you can use the extra 8 pages as endpapers (2 sides are pasted down).
Make sure the pages of front matter are in order.
You can have more or fewer, but the book must be made right to have energy.
Paging the book, dividing the text into pages, is crucial.
Write something you don't know but long to know.
It is tiresome to read a text that the author hasn't fought for, lost, and by some miracle when all hope is gone, found.
When you have your text, say it over and over until the rough edges are worn smooth.
Recite it to yourself in the mirror.
The book must be separate from you.
You are serving the book.
It has to make its way in the world.
Make sure it can communicate.
Paging a book is difficult.
Do not start to illustrate until you have divided the text among the pages.
The book should speak without pictures.
There is one way for your book to look.
It is your duty to find it.
What do the characters look like?
Their world is on paper before you.
The characters talk to each other.
They mean what they say.
Their hearts are in it.
What makes you think children like childish things?
Don't tell them how to be children.
They want to grow up.
Do them the honor of reaching for something far beyond you.
It won’t be noticeable but it will be felt.
Do the book and forget it.
Do not strive to be known as the author of . . .
Your next book will be harder, and so on.
You cannot grow if you repeat past successes.

Some Illustration in the works from one of my picture books. FlingFlong won't leave me alone.


  1. I'm absolutely in love with your book illustrations! Great advice from Victoria. I'm going to tweet a link to this post.