Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Content? I Love Content!

Now that bookmaking has become more popular, I've gotten requests to teach workshops on Content. Students have made so many structures out of nice materials that they'd like to add content to these books.

I actually work the other way around. I start with something I want to say—an idea or story or image I want to share—then I try to figure out the best form it should take. Thoughts about a friendship might work best as folded notes in pockets. A story that takes place inside of a building might be enhanced by an architecural, shaped accordion or it might contain pop-up rooms. The life cycle of a plant could be shown in a revolving square or cross flexagon that has no beginning or end. Each of these ideas focuses on a single event, place, or object, then gets linked to a structure.

Granted, I've made many blank books that I've wanted to fill, too. Occasionally I make a complete book by tailoring what I want to say to fit the binding and materials and colors that already exist. I study one of these books, pay close attention to it, and see what it suggests to me, like my own Rorschach test. So I can start from the inside out (what I want to say) or from the outside in (what I want to make).

Hey, it's National Novel Writing Month! For content, try writing a one-paragraph novel. Include a place, several interesting characters, a character's want, need or desire, a change over time, either physically or psychologically. Then give it a physical home in a book form.

I have had a copy of this content-related comic from xkcd.com hanging on my bulletin board for months. When I read it for the first time, instead of the word "blog" I read "book."

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