What if you could suck people into your scrapbooks the same way good authors suck people into their novels?
There is one thing you can add to your scrapbooks to make them massively more compelling. Just one thing. Before I tell you what that is, I want you to see this eight-second animated film of a rectangle with an opening, a circle, and two triangles. Just take a look real quick and then come back.
Did you watch it?
The film was part of some research in which the scientists asked participants to watch it and then tell them what they saw. What did you see?
Out of all the study participants, only one responded with “a rectangle with an opening, plus a circle and two triangles in motion.” The rest developed elaborate stories about the simple geometric shapes.
Many participants concluded the circle and the little triangle were in love, and that the evil grey triangle was trying to harm or abduct the circle. Others went even further to conclude that the blue triangle fought back against the larger triangle, allowing his love to escape back inside, where they soon rendezvoused, embraced, and lived happily ever after.
Did you imagine a story as well? Why?
We need stories. Story is the heart of who we are as humans. From our earliest days we have used them to understand who we are, to teach our children about the world, and to entertain. Does that resonate with you as a scrapbooker, or what?
Scrapbooks with a Story
Several things happened when I started thinking of my scrapbook albums as stories, rather than just thinking of the individual layouts that way.
- In the overabundance of photos, layouts and albums it was suddenly much easier to decide what was worth scrapbooking.
- I feel more excited and motivated to scrapbook than ever before.
- I believe the albums make someone want to keep turning the pages more than before.
Whether the story is a common thread or theme that runs through the album, or better yet, an actual plot where the “characters” struggle to get what they want, a story is practically irresistible.
Want an example? Here are some pages that show the plot and conflict of the dance album I’m close to finishing for Trinity. I’ve added the journaling under both in italics…
A Dance Scrapbook Album
This morning I saw I had a message from the owner of the dance studio. We’ve been adjusting to the chaotic life and overall demands of Trinity being on the company team. I was worried she needed to have a talk with me about the rehearsal we accidentally missed on Saturday because we’re still learning how to get it all organized.
But when I listened to her message, she said, “I’m calling about an opportunity for Trinity.” When I called her she began explaining the group of dancers called Power Elite.
“There are those few dancers that can’t get enough dancing,” Tina told me. “They want to be at the studio all the time. They want to be dancing every day.”
That’s Trinity, I thought. Trinity is a true dancer, all the way to her core.
“It’s hard on the families,” Tina continued.
And I knew that, too. Right now she is at the studio 4-5 days a week.
She works hard and slow on her homework (the curse of a perfectionist), and sometimes she’s up late working on it, but she gets it done. The dishes are another story, and we realized we have to rearrange her responsibilities around the house because she just can’t get them done on her long dance days, no matter how hard she tries. That’s why I thought, “Maybe next year,” when Tina said she wanted Trinity on the elite team, despite my exhilarated and racing heart. It would require she dance more than 20 hours a week, every day except Sunday.
“I’ve been watching Trinity,” Tina said. When she first joined Company in August, she definitely wasn’t ready for it yet. She didn’t have quite the confidence in all of the styles.”
No, she didn’t. Trinity had only ever taken ballet until she made company last August. Suddenly she was thrown into tap, jazz, lyrical, and hip-hop. But she progressed fast! I kept hearing about it whenever I went into the studio.
Tina continued to explain, “But I’ve been watching her dance next to two of the Elite girls and I saw that she was right there with them! She’s got that confidence and the ability.”
She also has the passion.
But when is it all too much? Trinity would have an off-balance life. Some people need off-balance lives. Some people can do that, though — can specialize in one thing, throw their life into one passion. Those are the people who become truly great at what they do.
As soon as I told Izzy about the invitation he was ready to shuffle everything around for Trinity to be able to take the opportunity.
So we asked her.
And she was giddy all day about it. So was I. And when we walked into the studio that evening and told both of the Tina’s — the owner and the dance company manager — they acted giddy about it, too.
I’m so proud of that girl. So happy for her.
You practiced from 8am until 1:30. You ate lunch in the car while we made the 25 minute drive home. At home I did your hair and makeup, and then we all rushed back in time for your performance.
You danced your ten numbers until just after 8. You did great! But some of it was a struggle.
You had a hard time breathing after a couple numbers and had a mild, short-lived panic attack in the car afterward.
Sushi (and getting out of the tight car) cured you. You’re coping better, especially after a hard day!
The 12-hour day was a stretch for you.
One thing I told you — no more slumber parties two nights before a big day like this. Maybe without the all-nighter you’ll do better with these extra exhaustive days.
The rest of the story?
Well, I haven’t scrapbooked it yet, but you’ll see Trinity now dances about 30 hours a week and no longer struggles with those marathon-length dancing days. You’ll find out how she started earning the scholarships at conventions this year and was just given the lead role in our ballet production for this spring. Hard work is paying her back.
Why a Story Matters More Than Style
Years ago when I first started thinking about scrapbooks as stories, I asked scrapbookers in a forum if they’d ever made a scrapbook that told a linear story. All but one said they’d never thought of scrapbooking that way. The only one who had sent me a link to a slide show of an entire album she’d completed.
I didn’t really love her scrapbooking style, but that didn’t matter. I was glued to my computer until I read every single word and looked at every single page in her entire scrapbook because it had an actual story to it. It was amazing to peek into someone’s life that way.
A scrapbook with a story can…
- drive people to turn the page
- excite you, as a scrapbooker, to create the page
- provide you with more meaningful layout ideas
It’s Not As Hard As You Think to Make a Scrapbook With a Story.
My two examples have a lot of journaling, but that’s not necessary. It also doesn’t require planning things out ahead of time. I start my scrapbooks with general topics, such as dance, or everyday life. In most cases I don’t find the story until I’ve filled up much of my album. We had to experience the 2.5 years of Trinity dancing before I knew where the story was going.
That’s okay. You can have “filler” pages that relate to the story topic, but don’t necessarily go with the running theme, nor push a plot forward. Here’s an example…
Sometimes developing the story simply means moving a page out of the album and adding in one from a different scrapbook. Sometimes it means you need to create a few new pages to move the story along, or make the story complete. If you’ve found empty backs of pages in your album that need to be filled, then you already have places to put those additional layouts that will round out your story.
I’ve shot four different videos that demonstrate this process in action:
- Complete an Everyday Life Scrapbook – Paperclipping 213
- Transform Your Albums Into Unified Stories: Part 1 – Paperclipping 175
- Tranform Your Albums Into Unified Stories: Part 2 – Paperclipping 176
- Visual Memoirs – Paperclipping 103
It’s a really fun and motivating way to scrapbook. And if you’re finding your albums are taking over your home and you need to prioritize what you do and don’t scrapbook, this just might be the thing to help you do it!
This post is part of a Play Along series where we finish a scrapbook album together. Click here to start the series, or to move forward click here: Scrapbooking 12×12 and 6×12 Two Page Layouts.