Phew! Just finished my tenth and final critique of the week. Yes, tenth. That is too many as far as I am concerned.
I am reading 1-2-3 Magic to learn how to better handle my bratty five year old and I find myself thinking, "Oh, this section should really come after the next paragraph!"
UGHHH! I can't turn it off.
Anyway, here are a few tips that I have compiled after reading so many PB manuscripts this week:
1) Ask yourself if you are sure you want to be writing picture books.
I've read 2600 word PB manuscripts! I've read clever, sophisticated stories that are WAY over the heads of PB audiences. Is this definitely the right genre for you? You may be better suited to chapter books.
2) If you are going to repeat a line several times, it had better be a good one.
I am one who loves repetition and The Rule of Three. But if you are going to say a line over and over it has to be something that people will enjoy hearing. Something fun, something catchy, something memorable. Something like "Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats. "
3) Make sure your ending is satisfying.
Okay, this is something I struggle with at times too. Eve Heidi Bine-stock, from the post below, discusses this in that same interview. For those of who haven't read it, she says one way to make your reader feel satisfied is to use a technique called the "Echo." This strategy entails repeating a central idea that is introduced at the beginning of the story. She uses the example of Harry the Dirty Dog which begins with Harry stealing the scrubbing brush and ends with the echo: Harry slept so soundly, he didnt even feel the scrubbing brush he'd hidden under his pillow. Gene Zion is a master at utilizing the echo. He begins and ends No Roses for Harry with a sweater that comes in the mail from Grandma. And he begins and ends Harry by the Sea with a big beach umbrella.
I'm going to revisit some of my picture book manuscripts and see if my endings can be improved. Then I am going to go finish reading 1-2-3 Magic!