Italo Calvino, in his book Invisible Cities described something similar, and perhaps that is how I absorbed the idea. He wrote about signs and symbols:
You walk for days among trees and among stones. Rarely does the eye light on a thing, and then only when it has recognized that thing as a sign of another thing: a print in the sand indicates the tiger's passage; a marsh announces a vein of water; the hibiscus flower, the end of winter. (Cities and signs 1)Each stationary sign heralds an action, a change, a movement. I haven't found any tigers, yet, but I am trying an abbreviated version of the following exercise as what I am calling a "content development" lesson in my Bookworks class.
- Take a walk and locate a telltale mark that shows that someone or something has been there. Draw it, photograph, or jot down a brief description to remember it.
- Make some lists, notes, sketches as you investigate the story. What is it? Who was involved? How did it happen? What was the conflict or interaction that led to the leaving of the mark? How does it relate to the emotions anyone might have? Look at both the specific situation and the universal human condition.
- Imagine how it would look as a film. What is the opening scene? What do you see first? Who or what moves into the frame? Describe an interaction or conflict that leads to the leaving of the mark. What has changed? What is the last thing you want the viewer to see, the vision that should remain and haunt us or make us laugh long after? OR connect the mark to many people in many different situations. How do they react differently? The same? OR look into the meaning of the object itself: in time, in cultures. Do research.
- Now watch the movie in your head and write it down or sketch it out, scene by scene. Consider including dialogue, diagrams, pictures, or a combination of any media.
- Read it aloud or flip through it for flow and clarity.
- Repeat steps 5 & 6 until you feel that nothing more can change, that you've said what you wanted to say.
- Divide the story into natural sections or breaks.
- Create a book with this many pages, adding patterned pages front and back that reflect the mark. Include a title or mark on the front and your name somewhere on it.
Trying making a sidebound book in a landscape format, with materials and colors that seem to suit the content.