Friday, October 2, 2009

Straight Up... with a Twist

Nothing like a Sixth Sense or a Usual Suspects. Everyone loves a good twist.

But how often do you see a one in a 400 word picture book? I can't think of too many.

Actually, only one PB comes immediately to mind- Bark George by Jules Feiffer. (I won't spoil it by telling you what it is!)

And yet, editors and agents often say, "I like it, but I was hoping for more of twist at the end." I have heard this time and time again.

My agent said it just this week.
Blustery (code name:)- This one is definitely worth working on. Good multiple levels... friendship, loneliness, a windstorm/chase. I'd love to see more of a twist at the end though.

So, Becky and I brainstormed. And guess what? We came up with something! (Amazing what one can do when pushed.)

Not sure we'll succeed in executing it effectively, but we do have an idea to give the story an added element of surprise.

We're going to work on revisions. In the meantime. if you can think of a picture book with a clever twist, please share!

17 comments:

Lazy Writer said...

Good luck with your revisions. And congratulations on coming up with an idea.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I always liked the end of 'But Not the Hippopotamus'. We know the hippo will cave in the end, but we don't know another animal will take his stubborn place. I guess that's kind of a twist...

Happy Weekend!

Anna said...

Bark George is a good example (and just a great book). I've heard people say this too, but I don't think it always has to be a surprise. Sometimes you can put in another step, another possibility, after the conclusion of the story to give it a twist.

So in Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, for example, the pigeon gives up on wanting to drive the bus, but then at the very end we see him ogling a huge truck. That's what I'd call a twist; even though it's not a surprise, it implies a possible continuation of the story that makes us laugh.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Bark, George is one of my favorite books. That book is probably less than a hundred words, but brilliant!

Another one of our favorites with a twist is Ms. Rubinstein's Beauty by Pep Montserrat. Awesome, wonderful story.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

The Old Woman and the Wave may fit the twist. She lives at the foot of a towering wave her whole life, trying to ignore it. Until one day, she is forced to go looking for her dog and finds a new perspective on life from the vantage point of the wave's crest. It's such a beautiful book, both visually and in deeper message. By Shelley Jackson.

Lisa and Laura said...

Ugh, the dreaded twist. It's so difficult to execute well. Because we're pitching a YA mystery we hear about it all the time. Hopefully editors will find our twist(s) sufficiently twisty...if not, back to the drawing board!

Dawn VanderMeer said...

Good luck executing that new idea!

Kim said...

Sounds like you are cooking, actually. Lots of good irons in the fire. :)

The only twists that are coming to mind are fractured fairy tales, but not sure that's what you're after. These are more looking at the story from different viewpoints. I'm sure you already know them, but

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig

The Mystery of Eatum Hall

There's another one where the wolf winds up feeding all the chickens pancakes at the end, but I can't remember the title.

Good Luck!

Infant Bibliophile said...

Lion in the Meadow (Margaret Mahy) has a bit of a twist - scary lion in meadow becomes friends with boy protagonist after they're both scared by a dragon.

Are these really twists or just slightly surprising endings for the audience? I mean, the plot leads there the whole time:
Green Eggs and Ham
The Monster at the End of this Book
Cat Up a Tree

And maybe:
Caps for Sale
Click Clack, Moo

Goodnight Gorilla? Not really a twist, but the gorilla ending up in bed again...

OK, clearly I'm procrastinating the nightly bedtime battle.

Rebecca said...

Of course we will, Corey! Be positive!

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I was really kind of hoping for a twist at the end of this blog post.

Suzanne said...

Well the giving tree... cause you think it's about the boy, but it's about the tree.

Lentil, and my absolute favorite.

And I Mean it Stanly!

taralazar said...

OK, Paul's comment made me LOL.

I KNEW you could do it. Give a little push and watch you fly.

I do know a picture book with a twist! Of course, it's on submission...

The twist doesn't have to be too complicated. At the end of CLICK, CLACK, MOO, it's all about the ducks and the last page with the diving board. Marvelous ending!

It's about not ending at the end, it's letting the story continue beyond the pages of the book. The twist is what makes the book re-readable, in my opinion. You go through the whole story and then there's this last little joke that catches you off guard. Bonus!

At the end of Emily Brown, would you consider the twist the thank you note from the Queen? Hmm...trying to think of more twists...

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha! Paul, sorry to disappoint you.

Tamika: said...

Hi Corey!

I love your blog! I am a fan forever of Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Congratulations on your plot twist those can be painful to come by. I pray it takes you into the creative heights you desire.

Blessings to you...

B.J. Anderson said...

I love twists! Good luck on yours. :D

Ame Dyckman said...

My very, very favoritest (well, it SHOULD be a word!) big ol' twist-ending PB: WOLF'S COMING! by the super-amazingly talented author/illustrator, Joe Kulka! I've read it to gobs of kids, and they all agree it's hysterically surprising and fun. Go-go, Joe!