Decisions one by one
Zobelia and I wanted to make a Writing tip about the fact that creating a story is hard work. Naturally, you need a character to tell this story of hard work, and we settled on a hedgehog because hedgehogs are respected storytellers in the forest.
We finished the Writing tip and it now sits in the Writing & Editing Tip Vault, and is entitled “It-Is-Hard.”
Then, Zobelia and I stopped and thought about how many decisions we made as we created the character and the illustrations. We needed a hedgehog, and I had no trouble with that (see the illustration above).
But, more decisions came up right away. We needed this hedgehog to be a character who could write a story. He needed to stand up on his hind legs and look like he might sometimes reach for a pencil!
The Writing tip is all about facing our fears, so then we got the idea that the hedgehog should look like a courageous warrior writer. We decided to give him armor, to make him feel protected in his battle.
Then, looking at him even harder, we decided it would be better if we changed his sword to a pencil. The adventure that this hedgehog is embarking on is the writing of a story, not the slaying of a dragon. So, out went the sword and in came a sharpened pencil!
The character now felt good to us. But, he was standing in space. That empty space did not feel right. First, we gave him some grass to stand on—because he is a hedgehog.
Then we realized that he needed a place to be a writer. We decided to give him a desk, a mug, a pot of backup pencils, along with a small stool.
This was the right setting, clearly, for a hedgehog writer and we wanted to build it up with even more details: some snacks (hedgehogs eat insects), a lamp with a funny shade (a snail shell), a window above the desk for a pleasant view, some pictures of his relatives on the wall, and a hat stand for his spare helmet!
Now we have a hedgehog who is in his writing study and who is prepared to bravely face the challenge of writing a story. The story is carefully told in the illustration!
This Drawing tip illustrates step-by-step how many decisions we have to make to invent an illustration that will tell our story.
This is always the way we make illustrations: in small steps just like these, making little decisions one by one.