Last weekend I escaped my duties as a Mother and took a train up to Edinburgh to join the South East Scotland SCBWI Network for a Picture Book Workshop with the wonderful Elizabeth O Dulemba.
|Sketching at the station|
Elizabeth is an amazing writer, illustrator and teacher from the US, who we are lucky to have access to here in the UK (and the North especially!) as she has recently moved to Edinburgh to further her studies. Watch her inspiring TEDx talk about how she sold or gave away nearly everything she owned to pursue her dreams.
I had heard of Elizabeth before this workshop by listening to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcasts; the one about how she turned one of her books, Lula’s Brew into an app and then a later one about her lovely historical fiction middle-grade novel A Bird on Water Street. She is a prolific blogger and provides many useful resources for writers and illustrators and weekly colouring in pages for children. I have previously mentioned her on my blog in relation to my Picture Book Anatomy tutorial.
It was a really useful and productive workshop, with a mixture of exemplar picture books, story analysis, folding paper, lots of folding paper, writing, pitching and drawing. There was a lot of information crammed in and I was surprised to find that by the end, I’d roughly storyboarded the manuscript that I took along. It was a pleasure and enlightening to see the collection of professionals’ storyboards that Elizabeth showed. I now want to check out the gorgeous work of Ruth Sanderson whom I was previously unfamiliar with, click on that link, you won’t be sorry that you did. Elizabeth brought along some of her own picture book dummies (mock ups) which were exquisite. Sadly we ran out of time at the end to make our own dummies but Elizabeth has a pdf resource on her website to help.
So what I will take away from the workshop is a way to look at my texts to define the essence of them, then break them down into four key structure parts, and from there into a further eight parts and then finally seeing them as a whole of 14 spreads/32 pages to eventually taking them to dummy for reading out loud and page turning in the real world.
It was a fun-packed, educational time and as SCBWI’s are a sociable lot I joined them for a post-workshop drink to talk even more about children’s book writing and illustrating and despairing at how long it takes to succeed. It was lovely to hear about Sheila Averbuch’s journey and her signing with her agent. Sheila highly recommended doing Writer’s Digest courses with access to editors and agents so I’m strongly considering trying an appropriate one to me, if I do, I’m sure to report back.