The unseen Art of RX. UX for book writing or simply Readers Experience
Recently I had quite an interesting experience that allowed me to discover a new application of the UX process applied to something different and unique.
I attended a philosophy event at the Brooklyn Public Library with an old friend that I have known for about 15 years. His name is Artem Mirolevich and he is an excellent illustration artist and painter. I consider him to be one of the most progressive Russian American artists who is constantly searching for new ways to reinvent himself and to present his art in unique and exciting ways. So far he has successfully organized many solo exhibits in New York, London, Italy, Spain, and Moscow. All the exhibits have received raving reviews resulting in art sales.
This time he is on a new venture to present his art in the form of a book. The idea is to take the reader through a journey linking the story with his paintings. The night of the event, I was accompanied by my wife Jenniffer and Artem. It was a wonderful event where you could witness the public’s yearning for new ideas, knowledge, and good times hanging around a library with music and poetry readings all around. The event was free, hence there were issues with the space being overcrowded. Nevertheless, after walking up and down the few floors of the library and seeing we couldn’t really enjoy any of the events properly due to the amount of people that attended, we found a few chairs and bought some beers and started talking. At this point Artem started telling me about his new venture and how he is feeling stuck even after hiring a writer for his story and reading the script she delivered. He still felt like the story was lost and disjointed, and didn’t know if the script was good anymore. I asked him, “Why? What’s the story about?”
He started telling me the story, at which point I quickly got confused with too many characters appearing, too many plots intertwining and him not being able to clearly tell me what the story was about in a few short sentences.
I was honest and said, “This book sounds very confusing.”
I thought for a moment, how can I help my friend get clear on the journey he wants to take people on? All of a sudden, a light bulb went off in my head.
I exclaimed, “Dude, we need to UX your book.”
He looked at me with a big question mark on his face and said, “What’s that?” I answered, “UX stands for User Experience. In this case, we need to create a seamless RX – Readers Experience. In general, it’s a process by which we scope out the flow of your book so that the readers will find it easy to navigate and follow the story from beginning to end and be able to say, “I loved this book.” Once we apply this UX process to your book before beginning to write the story, the writer will be able to sit down and write clearly because they will have an exact idea of what each chapter will be about, how the paintings fit into the story, and how the chapters flow together as a whole.” He sat there with a visible spark in his eyes and asked, “How are we going to do that?”
I answered, “We need space. I will need you to clear out one wall in your art studio and get me some sticky pads. How many chapters are in your book?” He answered, “Five.” I said, “Perfect, it will fit. We need to present the characters, their relationship to other characters and how those characters are coming alive with the paintings as the story develops.” He was excited, and said, “Great, let’s do that as soon as possible.” We met up in a few days time and started the UX process for his book.
We wrote the names of each chapter of the book on sticky pads, and listed them 1 through 5, bottom to top and we went to work. We discovered characters from studying the paintings. Not all the paintings fit the criteria, but the most incredible thing I realized is that after all those years, my friend had underlying themes happening in all his paintings. We identified what those themes were and split them into chapters. We began by building a hierarchy of characters, main characters, sub-characters, gave them names and described where those characters began their journey while noting everything down onto sticky pads.
Then we identified the relationships between the characters and started writing a sticky pad for all the major events and conflicts in every chapter and their purpose. What are the major conflicts in every chapter? What’s the prize for each conflict and how does each conflict allow the main character to get to the next chapter in his journey
What are the major conflicts in every chapter and what’s the prize of every conflict? Click To Tweet
We realized that each painting would represent an event and a conflict. The rest of the writing would be leading up to those events and conflicts. It was a difficult process since we were basically writing the story as we went along, but it was an exciting one as well. We were the creators of lives, stories, and experiences. Once we had created the links between all of the chapters, we were finally able to lead the main character to realize his purpose in the book. Lastly we needed to find the last painting to end the book with. At one point we ran out of pins, we went into his bedroom in search of more pins for the sticky pads and saw this amazing painting, and I exclaimed, “This will be your final painting! This is epic and it’s been hanging over your bed the whole time!” We agreed and finalized the book with that painting.
It took us four sessions but the first and most difficult phase was done. Artem was elated and I discovered a new form of UX, so I just went ahead and coined it
Since I am also in the process of writing a book of my own, I realize I will need to do the same for my book as well. Artem wrote everything down from the sticky pads into a word doc and then sent it to me.
After reading it I said, “Now it makes total sense! Now we can move on to the next task of writing the actual book. ”
Check out Artem’s website for the upcoming book: