Write for You: An Alphabet Book
by Nancy Casey
Every once in a while I make an alphabet book. You know the kind: A is for this, B is for that… It is a process that helps me clarify my thinking. Especially when the thinking is murky, or when the thinking won’t stop.
One of the best things about an alphabet book is the way you make one: page by page. You don’t have to start with A. You don’t have to say what the book is “about.” There’s not much to plan. You just get yourself set up and make a page.
To get set up, make an “Alphabet List.” Write the letters A-Z down the left side of the page. Next to each letter put words that begin with that letter. Use words that are significant to you. Perhaps you already have a collection of words to draw from. Keep adding to the Alphabet List throughout the project.
To make a page, consult your Alphabet List and pick a word and a letter. Here’s what goes on a page:
- The letter, showcased in some fancy way. You can write it extra big, put it in technicolor, decorate it, give it arms and feet, or whatever you decide.
- The phrase that says what word the letter stands for. (T is for Thing… B is for Bus stop…etc.)
- A sentence that has the word in it. (“The thing that rattled all night was a shutter that had pulled loose.” Or, “Here is the bus stop where I see the same seven people every morning.”
- A picture. You can draw the picture or tape (glue) down a picture you have found somewhere.
- Lots of other words that begin with that same letter, maybe written in fine print.
- Some kind of decorative border around the whole page.
You don’t have to put these things on the page in this order, though. Sometimes when I haven’t decided what letter or word to use, I just start working on the border around the page until an idea comes to me. Same for thinking up the sentence. When I don’t know what to write yet, I work on the decorative parts.
After you’ve made one page, make another, and another until you have made all twenty-six.
By the time you have made 26 pages, you will have thought up a really good title. So make a title page. Put the author’s name (you!) on the title page along with the date. Here is an example of a page from an alphabet book and a title page.
Make a cover for the book. It should have the title and author, and a picture if you like. It’s nice if you can make it out of heavier paper than the pages.
Making an entire alphabet book is a process that will take quite a while. But that’s okay, because it’s also the kind of process that you can interrupt and get back to easily. There isn’t a single big job that you have to do, only a series of little ones—picking a word, making a border, drawing a letter, writing a sentence…
Finish off the book by assembling the cover all the pages and binding them together somehow. You can staple or sew them, put them in a notebook, whatever is going to work best for the book you have made.
Now is not the time, really, to get all focused on finishing the book. For today, just make a page.
Nancy Casey teaches at the Recovery Center on Thursdays. 531 S. Main St. in Moscow. Check the calendar for classes and times. All are welcome. Call the Recovery Center 208-883-1045 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.