I am packing up house and this has forced me to go back to basics and develop my hand drawing skills. The main area that I am keen to progress in is children’s illustration for picture books/ chapter books. I had this in mind when I completed this weeks theme for the 52 Weeks Illustration Challenge.
Week 39: Words
Pencil, coloured pencils, artline pen
A picture book is created through a strong relationship between the words and the pictures. The word count in picture book manuscripts is dropping and currently the preferred number to aim for is the 500 mark.
So you have to choose your words carefully. Here are some tips:
don’t write the obvious – the illustrator will portray that for you
avoid adjectives (ly words)
use fresh language
avoid dialogue tags, ‘said’ is sufficient – the words you have chosen should imply how the character is feeling
Here is a great post about editing your text by Juliet Clare Bell over at Picture Book Den.
I am glad to say I did it, I managed to write 12 manuscript drafts for picture books and I am now looking forward to rereading them again in the new year. I look forward to editing and rewriting the manuscripts until they are polished and ready to be submitted to the big wide world of publishing houses. During the journey I learnt many tips on writing:
On the very first page start with a strong sentence – let the reader know who the story is about, where they are, when the story is happening and what the problem may be
Try to show the story in the words you are using, rather than tell the obvious in story (something which the illustrator will do for you)
Make sure your character grows in the journey of trying to achieve their goal
Use fresh language that will be a pleasure to listen to
resolve your story with a satisfying end!
I’d like to ‘Thank’ Julie Hedlund for creating the writing challenge and if you have also completed the challenge, well done!
I woke up to a party going on in my writing blog world. It is official, we are half way through the 12 Picture books in 12 months in 2012 writing challenge. I have previously written about it here in my New Year – New Goals post.
The 12 x 12 writing challenge was the brain child of Julie Hedlund, visit her and join in her party too! While you’re at it, why don’t you click here and visit all the other 12 x 12 party goers too!
So, have I managed to write a picture book manuscript each month so far? Thankfully the answer to that is yes! And the very reason that I can keep coming up with new ideas each month is what is actually keeping me going. Because sometimes you do start to doubt yourself (am I wasting my time, am I actually any good at this, what if I run out of ideas, blah, blah, blah) But I do keep coming up with new ideas and this is what keeps me going. Here are some of the story ideas I have written about so far:
January – A young boy is looking for clean undies…
February – Florence loves the library but…
March – Farley the fox has trouble doing something that all foxes should be able to do.
April – A little penguin is determined to be able to fly just like his friends.
May – A caterpillar and a tadpole are the best of friends and help each other when something very strange happens to them!
June – Letters go back and forth between a father and his daughter in 1929.
Happy writing and thanks for stopping by!
Due to a lot of discussion on our 12 x 12 Facebook page I have cut my story pitches back. This is because posting whole stories or pitch ideas may be copied by others or make them invalid for publishing as they have already been seen. This may mean that some of your lovely comments below might not make as much sense, sorry!
A while back I discovered this blog called Rate Your Story and have recently submitted two different manuscripts to their services. It is a brilliant free way of getting someone from their panel of judges to read your picture book manuscript and give a rating from 1 – 10 (1 = the best mark) and a bonus extra little bit of feedback. Most of all it gives you some kind of indication of wether or not you are on the right track.
Many of my fellow participants of Julie Hedlunds writing challenge 12 Picture books in 12 months in 2012 have also submitted their work and it is great to see all their feedback and delight at how their work is developing.
I know I must be improving because I have sent two manuscripts so far. Last weeks story about a zoo, had a rating of 7, so it either needs a lot more work on it or maybe needs to be put at the bottom of the pile for now, so I can focus on others that read better.
The second manuscript about a tooth fairy had a rating of 5. An improvement, even if it is a small one! Do I feel a sudden need to give in and decide that maybe this isn’t for me? Not a chance, I feel more determined than ever to see those ratings get closer to number 1!
The closing date for the latest lot of submissions is 7th Febraury 2012, so you have got to be quick to get in by tomorrow if you are interested.
Of course this is not the only thing I do to give me an indication of the standard of my work. I also send my manuscripts to professional editors and assessors, my critique group, publishing houses and writing competitions. I have written about this before in my post about the importance of Participating. Having some kind of deadline is good for you, it stops you procrastinating and wasting valuable writing time!
Anyway Good luck with your work, wherever you submit it!