So, after typing my last post which was about the recent increase in surprises in my life, and after proofing and publishing it, SURPRISE!, only half of the post was published. Everything I added after previewing the post was deleted forever. That goes into the, “Bad Surprises,” category of course. But the more I thought about it, the more I am thinking that it would be better to have the following post appear on its own. My original plan included feelings and arcs and stuff, but whatever. Anyway, enough behind-the-scenes. Here’s a new and improved post.
Tonight as I was trying to get my niece to sit down and eat the angel hair pasta I had slaved over for five minutes, I decided to grab some paper and start drawing. Originally, I was going to just doodle as she ate, but my niece has a wonderful imagination and jumps on board any and all creative endeavours happening around her. So as she came up with the story, I drew it. She can be a demanding director, but together we negotiated a solid narrative which I now present to you. Follow the arrows…
Act 1: Once there was a little stick figure person. OK, now, it’s a girl. She has a little friend with big shoes. OK, that’s her brother. What should happen to them? OK, they go some place really scary and dangerous and there are dinosaurs there. So I’ll draw a jungle. Together they are in the jungle. And there’s a big rock there. And there’s a tree and behind the rock, what does that look like? (My niece names the actual name of a dinosaur with a long neck because she knows all of the dinosaurs and I do not.) So that dinosaur is there and they are scared and they run. And the girl is there, but she’s lost her little brother. OK, so I’ll draw two arrows and the brother and sister getting separated. Separated is when two people are together, but then one goes one way and the other goes another way and they can’t find each other. There should be a little girl? OK, now the three of them travel to the jungle, go past the rock and see the dinosaur and get separated. The older sister starts to yell. Then the little boy starts to scream and jump. My niece stands up from her plate and re-enacts the drawing perfectly. I teach her about speaking in balloons and drawing speed lines to show speed and shaking lines to show body parts moving (which she also re-enacts perfectly).
OK, she wants a tall boy in there too. So now there’s an older brother who has been with them the whole time. He spends the first scene looking up at the coconuts. They all get separated after seeing the dinosaur behind the big rock and the little boy starts to scream. The little girl hears him and they eventually meet up. Yay! Unfortunately, the two older siblings fall into deep pits. I show my niece how to draw grass along the edges in order to help “sell” the idea that it’s dirt and grass. As I draw, I make a point to show her how I’m drawing each character. The little boy is a big circle with arms coming out of his ears (because he’s small) and big shoes. The little girl is just a circle with a triangle to show that she’s a skirt-wearing girl. The older sister also has a skirt. As I drew her falling into the pit, my niece insisted that I forgot to draw the circle over her. But she didn’t realize that I was drawing her on her side, not standing up. But before I realized this, she had intimidated me into drawing another circle. Not wanting to ruin the mojo, I told her that there were never any mistakes in drawing, that you should just go with the flow. So I turned the circle into a rock. She got on board with that and made sure to have a rock also fall on top of the older brother as well. Finally, the little girl and little boy were walking along the sidewalk and the little girl fell throught he sidewalk and into a pit herself!
Intermission: At this point, my niece wanted to introduce a new evil and scary character which I didn’t want to put in the story because I thought he was too scary and evil. He would put covers over the pits and the little boy would never find his siblings. I am sure my niece would write an eventual resolution to this problem, but I was only thinking one or two moves ahead, not three or more. Anyway, eventually I caved and started drawing.
Act 2: The evil man with a mysterious shadowed hat covered each of the pits up. He put concrete caps on each of the older sibling’s pits and for the little girl, he simply repaired the sidewalk and put up a construction sawhorse. We knew that we wanted the little boy with the big shoes to save the day, but I looked at my watch and realized that we missed bath time and it was now bed time. So after some negotiating, we decided on a shovel. I felt he needed something else to get through all of that concrete, so I wanted to add a jackhammer. But my niece didn’t know what that was. So I settled for dynamite which my niece also didn’t know about, but I figured Diego and Dora would probably free a trapped mountain squirrel from an imploded cave some time soon and have to use dynamite. I told her how dynamite worked and she asked me if that was real or a dream.
Act 3: Because bath time was over and bed time was looming, the story’s narrative started to suffer a little. But right before bed, my niece suggested that the whole thing was a dream, that I draw a window and on the other side of the paper, I draw everyone sleeping in a bedroom next to that window. Super good idea! So I drew the bedroom window and some arrows. After she was in bed, I started to draw everyone in bed. I wanted more of a hook, so I decided to have the littlest boy and girl out of bed sitting in the moonlight with the two of them telling the story the way my niece and I had.