Thursday, May 16, 2013

Getting Unstuck Part 2

When I started to thumbnail my first manuscript that I wrote, ever, I froze up. It was terrifying! Where to start? I made several pathetic attempts, but I was good and stuck. I decided to apply the same trick as in my last post. Not tracing, but thumbnailing existing books. Not just any books — epic books! I choose Creepy Carrots and No David!

Creepy Carrots is a favorite of mine by Peter Brown. This book is awesome in so many ways, but for this exercise, I chose it because of his wonderful and varied compositions. The key to this exercise is not to worry about making a pretty dummy, it’s all about seeing the big picture and capturing the essence of why a particular book is working. I found it also helps me to think bigger than I would if I hadn’t completed this exercise. Just like when I traced drawings in the last post, this exercise really opened my eyes to all of the possibilities! This is really just a trick to get me past my initial fear of starting.

Thumbnailing Peter Brown's Creepy Carrots

For the second book, I chose No David! It has a simple premise and very few words, just like my manuscript. I have read this book over and over to my kids. I’ve listened to David Shannon speak at an SCBWI Illustrator’s Day, but it wasn’t until I thumbnailed the book that I noticed the genius of his compositions. The different angles and the brilliant use of space became clear.

Thumbnailing David Shannon's No David!
I urge you to try this exercise! Good luck!


  1. What a great idea! I never thought of doing this. Thanks for posting this, Laura.

  2. I do this too! And it is so helpful!! Love your images.

  3. Great advice, and much appreciated! I have been staring at spreads from a stalled book dummy on my bulletin board, trying to give myself self-imposed deadlines. Friday is usually my day to swing by the library, so you have inspired me to get my act in gear! Many thanks and nice blog!

  4. Thank-you for taking the time to share this exercise. I hope it kick-starts your dummy. 'Can't wait to see the brilliant solutions it inspires for you.

  5. That is a great idea! I have been working on thumbnails for a dummy and have been feeling a bit stuck. Thanks!!