Monday, March 12, 2012

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Week of March 11, 2012—20 Tips for Great Picture Book Manuscripts
Monday, March 12, 2012—20 . . . 19 . . . 18 . . . 17 . . .

Picture Book success very well may begin with the initial idea. Editors are looking for something they’ve not seen before that fills a need they have. Friendship books are always in demand—but the friendship between a shark and a minnow (as in the book Tammi Sauer recently sold) is a unique take on friendship. Bedtime stories are always in demand—but a bedtime routine of a dinosaur (as in How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague) is a fresh twist. Find that unique idea and you are well on your way to a great manuscript. For more info, see:

I think this may be one of the first slip-ups picture book writers make—they fail to plan. You know the old saying—If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Still many of us (me included from time to time) jump into our writing with both feet without a plan firmly in mind. We may know how the story begins or how it ends. We may know who the main character is and what his/her problem is. We may know one or two funny things that will happen in the story. BUT . . . we have not planned out the story. Plan it first, my friends. Your plan may change as you write, but if you don’t have a plan, you’re driving blindfolded on a curving road atop a mountain cliff. Visit the following link to find a graphic organizer that can help you plan your next picture book.

Here is the second stumbling block for many picture book writers—plot. Plot is more than a plan, plot is the problem a protagonist is solving, the catalyst, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, the denouement, and more. A well-developed plot is often hardly noticeable to the reader because the story flows logically and smoothly. But a poorly constructed plot is obvious to everyone. (Even though most readers wouldn’t be able to tell you what’s wrong with the plot, they know the story doesn’t “feel” right.) Plotting out your story and then looking for plot holes when you revise is essential to developing a great picture book. See these links for more information about plot:

Picture books are known for memorable characters. Picture book protagonists are often loveable, relatable, and real. And the antagonists are also memorable. Finding that unique, one-of-a-kind character can set your picture book apart. Fancy Nancy, Frog and Toad, Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, and Robot Zot are all very different characters, but each has been successful. What do they have in common? They're uniqueness, of course, To learn more about developing memorable main characters, check out these links:

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