Nat Blog

(It’s the Way that You Do It!)

The Idea Develops

The Idea Gets Some Interest

The Idea Takes on a New Direction

The Story Emerges

A Commitment From a Publisher

Checking the Text

Finding the Characters

Finding the Characters

Getting the Paints Out

All About Line Drawing

Finding the Painting Style

A Happy Accident

Choosing The Colours

5 - Easy is Right
The Story Emerges

March 2010


I start playing around with merging the Smile story with my Nat the Cat character and to my great joy they seem to be a good match for each other. I know this principally because I don’t get stuck in the process; it flows well and seems to almost write itself. I am reminded of a quote from the Taoist sage Chuang Tzu: ‘Easy is right.’ As I endeavour to expand the ‘smile’ story using Nat as the central character it feels both ‘easy’ and ‘right’ – almost as if they were just waiting to be put together.


Now that you are familiar with the two elements of the Smile poem and the character of Nat (see previous entries) I can explain a little how I manage to do this. Firstly I realise that, as Nat is the central character, it is he who should take on the role of the person who spreads the smile. To strengthen the theme of sharing I bring in the theme of a picnic which Nat prepares to share with his two friends. This then introduces a big question – who are Nat’s friends, what animals should they be? After ‘auditioning’ a few alternatives including a pig called “Big Pig’ (dammit, someone had got there first with this name) I settled on a hare called Hugo and a goat. Billy is based on the kid that appeared in Ssssh! Duck Don’t Wake the Baby! - although I never got the chance to name him in that book I always knew he was called Billy Goat.


For a brief story summary click here. If you’d prefer to wait
to hear the story fresh when it’s published, don't click the link!


Billy DummyI manage to assemble a rough text for most of the story, which I cut up and stick into a dummy book with sketches to suggest what the illustration might be. This gives me a feel of how the page turns are working – are they in the right place, are they too fast, too slow, do they pull the reader onwards into the story ? It’s quite a special moment to see my story appear in this form as it’s the first time it really feels like a book rather than just an idea for a book.


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