The most recent Make Cycle for the Making Learning Connected MOOC is all about visual storytelling, with a focus on what is known as the “five image” story – using only visuals to relay a narrative. I’m still mulling over where to turn my camera lens, but it reminded me of how much I love “silent” picture books (or wordless picture books) where the story is told entirely in illustrations and art — no words.
One of my favorite writers/illustrators of this genre (is it a genre? Subgenre?) is David Weisner, whose books are so fun to read and explore and consider, and the absence of words is a brilliant stroke of creative expression, drawing the reader into the mystery of the stories themselves.
Read his picture book, Tuesday, or maybe Flotsam, and you will be hooked. Someone even made an animated version of Tuesday that is fun to watch, although I prefer the silent, page-turning book better.
By the way, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, is another outstanding story told entirely in pictures. It’s a powerful tale worth viewing/reading. Here’s an interpretation of that book:
So, given the CLMOOC idea of telling a story in five images, how can you write one of these kinds of books?
Of course, there is the traditional ways (pull out your artbook and get drafting) and there are ways to use technology to do it, too. Storybird is one site that is worth exploring. Here, you use artwork that the site provides to create books. While most users add words to tell the story, you could just sequence a series of illustrations to do a silent picture book.
I went in this morning and created this book — Dreaming of Something Better – and I admit, it was a bit of a struggle to tell a wordless narrative in five slides, with artwork that I did not create myself (although if you ever saw my artwork, you would be thanking me for sparing you). You both lose some agency as a writer and yet, you gain something, too. Stories of all sorts take place in your head as you look at the array of artwork. Inspiration has to come from digging around the bin of art.
What stories will emerge?
In this short picture book, I was going for a girl who feels left out of her family and sits in her room, dreaming of escape. The last frame/page in the story is key, as the artwork is an entirely different texture and feel, so that the shift represents the dream not the reality. If I had one more frame, I would have tried to show her back in bed or with a book. But I think it works as it is. (Or did I ruin it by explaining it?)
Interestingly, Storybird normally allows you to embed the books in other sites, but it did not like that I didn’t use any words at all, and so it closed down the embed ability. Hacking Storybird?
What can you make?
Peace (no words needed),