I’m working on choosing final images that will go in my book Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Images is in the process of teaching children critical for a nonfiction book like this.
One part of the book includes a chapter about the archaeological dig that is taking place in the Slave Cemetery at Mount Vernon. I want to include photos of volunteers working there and there are some great images to choose from. But each photo needs to meet a list of factors for it to work for the book. This is a photo of me working the sifter during the dig. While it does fit the text of the book it is more important to use images of other volunteers. I took this photo, but it isn’t the right choice to be in the book. Other images are better and will carry more weight.
Photos take up a lot of real estate in a book, so each image must carry it’s weight and be worth the space. The photo needs to either add a deeper understanding to what I’ve written or give a platform to use more information in the caption to get across information that didn’t fit within the text. It matters what is in the background of the pic. Does what is behind or beside the subject add to the photo?
Is the photo hi res enough for publication? Some images must be deleted because they aren’t good enough for print. THIS FOLLOWING PART IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL! I’m working on this part right now. While the photos I want to use technically belong to Mount Vernon, the people in the photos are volunteers. So I want each one of them to tell me it is acceptable for me to use the photo in my book.
Got to go now—maybe the people I’m looking for sent me an email . My turn to weigh in on National Poetry Month. I’m fascinated with this way of storytelling, and have been trying to write one myself for longer than I care to reveal. Maybe it was the dismal poetry I was “exposed” to in school. Two weeks of Longfellowwe ALWAYS had two weeks of Longfellow.
You spend two weeks reading Evangeline and see if you don’t want to pull your hair out. You gotta love a guy whose poems had titles like “Auto Wreck” and “Manhole Covers. Nary a daffodil, meadowlark or fluffy cloud wafted through his poems. Mostly, I learned to slink down in my seat whenever we had a “poetry unit.
So why am I hooked on novels in verse? Certainly not because they are easy to write. The book may be 300 pages, but with this style of writing and page lay out, the actual word count is ridiculously low. As with picture books, every word must count. The writing is vivid, tight, and packs an emotional punch with the fewest words possible. It is an easy read for the student, without the student being aware of how easy it is.
They see a 300 page book, and think Nope. Then they open the book and see all that lovely white space, a relatively small amount of words. Nothing says I don’t want to read this than large blocks of description. I have heard verse novel detractors dismiss the form as “just creatively arranging sentences on a page. But I’ve never read a bad verse novel, and I’ve read every thing published in this genre for the last 20 years.
You have to be a darn good writer to pull it off. The years I’ve spent writing and revising and ultimately rejecting my own verse novel have not been in vain. I’ve honed my sense of what makes these books work. To contemplate why my book should be a verse novel. I have concluded that the subject is so intense that it bogs down in regular prose. I tried to write it that way for two years before I made the big leap to verse.