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I want to use today's post to go into much more detail about how I am designing the main character for my book. It's important to understand how your lead will feature throughout - how do your story & character interact? For example, knowing WHAT I am teaching in each section andWHO will be teaching it makes it easier to understand the HOW it will be rendered in the book.
Stories are about people; you can't plan on the how before you know the who.
This might sound backwards but it worked for me. Think of it like a regular novel - I have my story arc (the overall plan for the book), my character and all I need now are the events and set-pieces that stitch the whole thing together. The perspective I use to tell my story. Designing "set pieces" without knowing who was going to be in them just didn't work out.
I knew finding a name that was important and wanted something that was linked to photography but not in an overt, ham-fisted way.
A lot of time was spent researching possible options! However, I kept coming back to one of the earliest potential names I found.
Simple, cutesy like a Pixie, kept up with the alliteration. It is an old, very-rarely used shortening of "pixel" so it fits the photography theme too.
Initially I assumed all of the artwork for the book would be hand drawn, similar to classic children's books but with a more adult look & feel. Photography concepts are MUCH easier to explain with words & images rather than words alone and I expected there to be dozens, if not hundreds, of illustrations.
I began by sketching out some ideas, quite literally on the back of a napkin, for the main protagonist of my book - the Photo Pixie. Although initially a fairy, I decided early on to distance myself from other famous fairies (*cough* Tinkerbell) and over time the fairy evolved into a pixie. I liked the alliteration of the name "Photo Pixie" as well and once I had settled on a name it just all seemed to come together perfectly.
I can't draw. I'm hopeless. Even my handwriting sucks. I realised immediately that if I was going to illustrate the book I would need some help.
I explored a number of options, contacting local artists, asking friends... I even considered taking an art course so I could learn to draw myself! I created a Pinterest board to gather images for inspiration. Nothing worked out quite how I wanted it l, or was far too expensive, but I did find one option that has been really helpful.
It's a website called fiverr. The idea is that artists, photographers, actors and other creatives around the world offer their services to do a small job for $5. Oh you can pay more for "expanded" services and in one case I did just that - I even began thinking I could commission my favourite artist to illustrate the entire book for quite a reasonable price but in the main I've simply used fiverr to tap into the collective mentality of a number of artists to help guide my own creative instinct. Not all of the "gigs" panned out but seeing what others would create from a simple list of keywords was tremendously useful. The images in this post are just some of the illustrations I commissioned from artists around the world.
In fact, the "Fiverr experiment" was so useful that it was while browsing for more artists to test out I had a flash of inspiration; the lighting-bolt of creativity which will let me produce all of the illustrations myself, from scratch. All without touching a pencil.
And in the next episode I will give a demonstration of just what I mean :)
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