Wednesday, March 14, 2012

12 . . . 11 . . . 10 . . . 9 . . .

Week of March 11, 2012—20 Tips for Great Picture Book Manuscripts
Wednesday, March 14, 2012—12 . . . 11 . . . 10 . . . 9 . . .

Okay, this is my second most favorite thing to teach—transitions. Transitions are those magical words and phrases that move a story from time to time, place to place, event to event. Transitions seamlessly move the reader through time and space. You can easily locate lists of transition words and phrases with an simple Google search. Begin building your list today. Be sure to add one of my favorite transitions to your list . . . ellipses. What would our writing life be without dot, dot, dot (as my students call it)?

Character driven and action packed—that’s what I hear editors say they look for the most. The deadly word “quiet” often describes picture books that are void of action. Now action doesn’t have to mean exploding chickens or dancing dinosaurs (though it certainly could). Action means something is happening. The two easiest ways to ensure action is happening is through the rising and falling action of your plot and through the verbs you choose.

I know I keep saying it, but this is another topic I love to teach. Sentence variety. Short. Long. Complex. Statements. Exclamations. Questions. Dialogue. Purposeful sentence fragments. All combine to add variety to your writing. Sentences all structured the same give your writing a plodding feel. Sentence variety moves the text along and keeps the reader engaged. However, sentence variety is never used for variety’s sake alone. You vary sentences in an attempt to find the perfect way to communicate each part of your story. Read more about sentence variety at:

There is no higher compliment than to be told, “I knew that was your writing the minute I heard the first sentence” or “I’d recognize your voice anywhere.” Voice is the element of your writing the shows who you are—it’s you coming through. Perhaps it’s your unique turn of phrase, your humor, or your word choice. Maybe it's the way you combine words, weave together a story, or surprise your readers. This is no way means, however, that your writing is predictable or routine. Quite the contrary. But voice does mean your personality and individuality sing out, shine through, and shout for attention. Read a bit more about voice at:


Pascale Mackey said...

I've been getting these great PB writing tips in my inbox every day. Each time I say to myself, I need to store these and the referring posts in one doc for easy access.
Then I thought, Rob should make an eBook! I'm sure a lot of PB writers would purchase it. Just a thought… ;-)

Laura said...

Thank you! This is great stuff. Can't wait to see what the rest are. :)