Picture Book vs Magazine —How to know WHAT you’ve written

I ran across another thing. This is some GRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT advice given by Verla Kay over on her Blue Board .

“Some things to consider when looking at a picture book
manuscript are these:Does the story start in the middle of the action?  Does it
pull readers right into the problem immediately?

Does it have between 16 and 22 solid “scenes” that
“demand” to be illustrated? And are they all different?
(You normally don’t want 16 scenes all in the kitchen
of the refrigerator door!  There’s just not enough variety
for that to be a good picture book.)

Are the scenes fairly evenly spaced in the manuscript?  In
other words, do you have four paragraphs of one scene
and then two sentences for the next one?  You only want
that if it’s a climax of the story or for some other very
specific reason.  Otherwise, there should be about the
same amount of text for each scene in the book.

Does the main character have a problem that is so
important it’s life-changing or life-threatening?  If not, it
might not be “meaty” enough for a solid picture book.

Are there three important “setbacks” that your main
character experiences in trying to solve his problem? 
Is the last one so major that readers feel he’ll never
solve his dilemma? (That’s the climax.)

Is the ending totally satisfying and does it feel “right”
to readers?  Does the solution to the problem come
naturally from the events and personalities of the
characters in the book? Does the reader think, “Of
course! Why didn’t I think of that?” when the story is
Regardless of whether or not it’s written in rhyme, all
picture books need to have a “rhythmic feel” to them.
Can it be read aloud effortlessly, without anyone
stumbling over words or phrases — even the very first
time someone sees and reads the story?

Is the plot different from the thousands of other picture
books already on the market? (Check with Books in Print
– the children’s version for the answer to this question, or
look up the subject matter on the internet to see what else
is out there.)

Is your writing style unique?  Does it feel like YOU wrote
the story, and not just anyone?  Did you use fun, different
words that tickle the tongue and the mind?  Does the story
delight readers and make them want to read it again and

Was the story told with the absolute minimum of words? 
Is each scene succinct and clear — easy for young readers
to understand?

These are all very important things to consider when
looking at a picture book manuscript.

A magazine story only has 4 to 8 illustration possibilities.
It has one problem with normally one setback.  It may
have less characters. It doesn’t need that “read me again
and again” quality of a picture book story. It doesn’t cost
a publisher $50,000 to $80,000 to publish it for the first

I hope this helps you to understand a little better the
differences between these two kinds of stories.”

Great info, huh! If you’ve never been, go and check it out. There’s more than this there!I’ve found it to be a great resource, full of friendly people!



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