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Nosy Crow Blog Post On Writing Children's Apps

Excellent blog article posted by @NosyCrow at the weekend, but which I missed at the time (probably due to the Olympics).

In it, Kate Wilson is responding to a blog post on Picture Book Den by Moira Butterfield in which she was calling for greater involvement by picutre book authors in the creation of original apps, rather than leaving it to techies to codify traditional tales and existing books (I summarise her post - Kate links to the full piece).

Kate responds by arguing that apps are NOT like picture books, and a different, more collaborative skillset is required to create them. I hope she won't mind me quoting the differences she cites in full:

[W}riting a highly interactive, multimedia children's app that is a satisfying reading experience is not the same as writing a picture book. Here are some ways in which, in our experience, writing a children's story app is different:

Creating an app is a highly collaborative process. More, perhaps, like writing a film-script than writing a book. Of course, picture book authors are used to being edited, but writing something truly interactive which accommodates other media does require a different level of flexibility and team-playing. Our apps are highly interactive and include illustration, animation, voice audio and music: the text is, just by virtue of the arthmetic a smaller part of that mix than it is in a picture book... which is not to say that it's not a hugely important part of the mix.

Creating an app is a technical process. Moira writes about "teccies" and "computer whizzes", and I think that authors who are interested in working into new media need to get to know "teccies" and "computer whizzes" and understand their kind of creativity, their sensitivities and what they regard as excellent in their fields. That's not to say that authors need to come to publishers with a finished, coded app (we wouldn't want that, for example: we have our own technical team, and we want to use code we've created), I do think that having some understanding of what does into animation and coding is helpful.

Creating an app is a new process. Authors who write picture books know their genre inside-out, and can draw on a huge experience of reading picture books themselves and, usually, of reading picture books to children. In August 2009 Winged Chariot launched Europe's first picture book app (you can read about it here and elsewhere), so we're looking at a genre that is just three years old. We began work on apps that we expected would be used on a screen bigger than the one we had available several months before the launch of the iPad, which turned out to be the name of the device we'd been expecting, in May 2010. So apps are new, and they're developing fast. I think that authors who are interested in writing in this space need to keep up with developments, immerse themselves in this world and get to know the best of the apps that are out there, and, even better, spend time with children who are reading those apps to see how they use the screen and what they expect from it.

Apps are voracious: in our experience, they need more content than a picture book aimed at the same age-group. Writing a picture-book length text isn't going to provide enough text for an app. Which is not to say that you can have even as much text on a screen at any one time as you can have on a printed page.

Apps are non-linear, or, at least, not completely linear: in our experience, understanding the balance of narrative story-telling and other non-linear elements is important.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on July 31, 2012 8:32 AM.

Authors back children's book app was the previous entry in this blog.

Why social media isn't the magic bullet for self-epublished authors | Books | guardian.co.uk is the next entry in this blog.

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