Then I started to enlarge on our ideas, by creating some sketch sheets. I've learnt from past experience that, as an illustrator/author, pitching text-only stories to publishers is not the best route to success: I can see how funny the illustrations are going to be, but it turns out other people can't see into my head! So, for my last 3 books, I have sketched out the various characters and lots of the key situations, which helps to bring the story to life.
I always hate the first couple of days on a brand new project though. It should be fun and exciting but, in truth, I always begin by entirely losing the ability to draw, so it's like pulling teeth and I get rather stressed and grumpy.
Which is what happened this time. John and I had come up with what we thought was a good story idea, but I kept stalling on the character sketches. The story features a gang of dogs and, for some reason, I've always found dogs tricky.
I got on much better with that project. I gradually began to do more drawing and less rubbing out and swearing! So, this week I have gone back to my troublesome doggy characters and am having, slowly, more success. John found this great book in the charity shop too, which is proving really helpful:
It's especially good, because, as well as having lovely, big, clear pictures, it also shows the dogs in a wide variety of positions. I usually get my reference from the net, but everyone snaps their pet dog face on!
I'll let you know how I get on. At least the slow pace of the visualisation is also providing time for the storyline to mature.