What Writers Can Learn from the I Spy Series

Yesterday I stumbled across the video on how photographer Walter Wick creates the images for the I Spy book series. I have a confession to make. My son had so many of these books! I’m fairly certain that he didn’t enjoy them nearly as much as I did. First, there was the challenge of finding the various items. But I also loved the complexity and the beauty of the individual images.

The video discusses not only how Wick came to work on this particular series, but also the effort that goes into them. Some images come together in a matter of hours.

Others take weeks. Sometimes Wick and his assistants have to build various elements from scratch. Making that paricular photograph takes more work than some of the others that may be in the same book. But Wick knows that he and his crew have to keep at it to get the result they want.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like writing? Some manuscripts come together relatively quickly. Maybe not in hours but quickly compared to other manuscripts of the same type. Everything flows and it just works.

Other manuscripts take a lot more effort. I know that often as I draft I have to go back and do more research. Why? Because there is a detail that I need in the manuscript that somehow I missed finding during my initial research.

Still other manuscripts may not take more research but finding the right opening scene takes multiple tries. Sometimes it doesn’t come together until the closing scene has been created. Only then do I know where I need to start.

For your current project you may still be looking for the right POV. Or working to bring the setting to life. Or the voice of the story isn’t quite right.

I hope that like Wick and his crew you will keep at it. It often takes a lot of effort to create a story that just works without reflecting the labor and multiple attempts that went into it.