Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Three Narrative Arcs in Making a Book: Part 1 Orange Crush
When someone falls off a cliff, a story begins. When writing or illustrating a picture book, it’s easy to loose your footing. It can be discouraging and even if things are going great, it can still be overwhelming and a lot like falling. That is, until you turn it into flying. I’m sure many of you have seen the following, but if not, you gotta see it. Two points are made: a. You can turn a “fall” into a “flight”. b. Darwin knew what he was talking about.
Whew! O.K., back to story arcs. 1. There is the narrative arc of The Story Itself. 2. The narrative arc of Me Actually Making the Book. 3. The narrative arc of My Life and World During the Journey of making this book. Each of these has, basically, a beginning, a middle, an end.
The Story Itself: If you throw an orange to a friend, the beginning of this “story arc” is the orange leaving your hand. The orange is our protagonist, our hero, or heroine. And she is launched into this trajectory for some reason, some destiny.
The middle is the exhilaration (or terror?) of hurtling through the air-- the orange’s life passes before her eyes. This is life on the edge for her. She is in her prime after all; a plump, succulent citrus. Cold air rushes against her oiled skin. She has no idea where she is going or why and doesn’t care.
Then there is the ending. Is she lovingly caught, welcomed and caressed, gently placed in a blue bowl with her sisters of Valencia? Or does she meet a more sinister end? Dropped? Overthrown, and over the cliff? Does she meet the fate of so many innocent oranges, and end up grabbed by a barbarian and jammed into a juicer? Or worse yet, does she sing as she flies free, beaming at the birds, smiling at the curious ciphers of the high cirrus clouds, basking as she arcs under the also orange sun. Oh, the bliss. But wait, she notices a back lot baseball game coming into focus. Who are these scruffy kids? What are they using as a baseball? And then she knows…