Wednesday, October 15, 2014



“Picture book writers don’t have the novelist’s luxury to creep into a story. Your opening has to be quick, grabbing the audience from the get-go.”

That’s a quote from Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

I know that. It’s . . . . well, a no-brainer.  She goes on to say that a strong opening addresses the questions WHO IS YOUR MAIN CHARACTER? And WHAT DOES YOUR CHARACTER WANT?

In my picture book that is out in the wide world right now, looking for a home,  my main character wants to buy a special birthday present for his grandfather. It took me five sentences before I got to that. Five sentences too many! And the frustrating thing is, I didn’t realize that until I’d sent the manuscript out to twelve different publishers!

Help! Can I get it back? Nope.

What was I thinking???

I actually had the manuscript sealed in a brown envelope and waiting on my kitchen table, ready to go out again, when I went for a walk (Oh, the power of walks!) and had my great epiphany. I raced home, tore open the envelope and rewrote the beginning.

Now my FIRST sentence is: Felix didn’t have a birthday present for Grandad.

How could I have made such a mistake? How did I not see something so obvious . . .  and so important? A  painful lesson but I won’t make that mistake again.

And by the way, I don’t agree with the statement that novelists can creep into a story. Certainly not authors of kids novels! You need to plunge the reader into the story with your first sentence – introduce your character and at least hint at the  conflict that lies ahead.

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