Monday, May 21, 2012


By Liz Thiers
ROUND ROBIN 3 represented a departure from ROUND ROBIN and ROUND ROBIN 2 since Dani, Jenn, and Katy were no longer working with stand-alone words, but sentences.  The trick was to create a narrative out of fifteen sentences composed by three alternating authors.  When I came into the process, Dani, Katy, and Jenn had created several different story lines.  Each story line started with one artist writing a sentence out of the blue, then all three took turns adding sentences, wildly exploring the possibilities of the new world...  The results were visually stimulating but not always compact nor consistent: most of the story lines didn't feature a strong arc or ending.

The first step was to decide which story to purse...  The thread about sheep walking tightropes was too exciting to pass up!  However this thread was not completed yet: I watched as Dani, Jenn, and Katy sat around Katy's kitchen table and finished the game.  Katy tried to guess where Dani was headed based on her sentence, but ultimately added her own sentence that contributed something unique and exciting to the story.  Jenn repeated the process, trying to guess Katy's intentions.  We ended up with three very different sheep, each of the artists weaving one of their tales after the sisters fell off their tightrope.

Though Dani brought Fuzzy to life on paper, she ended up illustrating Woolala's adventures.  As in ROUND ROBIN books 1 and 2, the artist was not allowed to work with words she contributed.  I thought the matchmaking was prophetic, since I saw much of the artist manifested in her assigned sheep.  I also think the story parallels the Robins' journey in delightful ways.  I'd never call Dani, Jenn, and Katy "snooty" or "tall" (well OK, maybe Dani), but they were certainly forced outside their comfort zone by this project, just like Fuzzy, Flounce, and Woolala.

But how to tie all three sheep's stories together again?  Of fifteen sentences, the first four were dedicated to setting the scene, describing the characters, and imparting the "inciting incident."  The next nine sentences detailed the fate of each sheep separately, creating three alternating character arcs.  Now that the sheep sisters were no longer dependent on each other, how could I resolve their separate stories in just 2 sentences?  They needed to collectively reject their old way of life in favor of their new one, and they needed to do so quickly...

I spent a few weeks drafting various versions of the last two lines.  I would only spend a half hour with the story at a time, tweaking the last two lines till I had several versions to show Dani, Jenn, and Katy.  They chose the variation they liked best and it was off to the races!

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