Flipbooks are Magic!

This post is about writing – which I will get to – but I will start by talking about flipbooks. Most of you have probably made a flipbook at one time or another. You take a notepad and draw a picture on the first page. On the second page you draw a similar picture, but you change some aspect of it slightly. On the third, fourth, fifth pages the image moves or changes slightly in each iteration. After you have made twenty or thirty pages you put down your pen. When you grasp the notepad and flip through the pages, something amazing happens: you’re brain compiles each of the slightly different pictures that it sees in rapid succession and tells you that you are seeing movement. Your static drawings have come alive!

It looks something like this:

We also call this process “animation”. This phenomenon is the basis for the cartoons you enjoyed when you were younger, and computer animation that is so popular today.

I discovered a fun website that allows you to spend endless hours creating your own simple animations, like the inspirational one that I included above. I will provide the link below… but I want to make my point about writing before you get lost in a cloud of artistic, animated creativity.

I have been thinking or several weeks now about how to bring my writing to life. I want to create a similar effect to what a person experiences when they begin to flip pages and see an illustration come to life. I strive to create memorable characters, and meaningful storylines… but what I really want is for the reader to think that they are holding something that might be alive when they read my work. I tried to write down some of the characteristics of a flipbook that make it seem “real”, and emulate some of those things in my writing. Here is an incomplete list: movement, depth, dimensions, shifting frame, velocity, color, passage of time. Next, I tried to list some of the devices, methods, styles that I have read in some of my favorite books that help to achieve a similar sense of reality/movement/color: descriptions of touch, smell, and other sensation, vivid description of settings, metaphor, analogy…

I think that the goal of creating “animation” through writing will take me some time to achieve, but I like to keep it in the front of my mind while I am writing in hopes that I will be able to create a piece so memorable, moving, or disturbing that the reader will want to read it more than once.

Okay, here is the link for the animation website: Flip Anim

You can figure out all of the controls within a few minutes, watch animations from other users, leave comments, etc. You can even download your animations or send a link to your friends. P.S. you might want to set a timer, or you will find yourself spending hours on this site!

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