Nancy's Books

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Writing Picture Books: Term: “Slight”

Like many writers, I’ve had picture book manuscripts rejected because they are “slight.” The rejection letter may state: We’ve reviewed your story and find the character charming and delightfully; however the story is too slight. What!?! If the character was charming and delightful, what’s the problem? Picture books need a strong idea. Something must happen. A day in the life of a girl named Susie won’t work in today’s market even though the story is told well, unless Susie does something that ignites excitement. The story must have an emotional appeal that makes it stand out. Significant messages or universal themes that give a story lasting importance make and editor take notice. However, this gets tricky. Significant messages and universal themes should NOT be didactic, meaning preachy.

Stories are considered “slight” because the story doesn’t have depth or the plot doesn’t have action. A story in which a child strolls through the forest and sees the trees doesn’t have enough action or a significant message. A child walking through the woods counting trees has much more impact because the story has a strong focus: counting. Learning to count gives the reader something that will linger long after the book is closed.

The stories we write should resonate with young readers and embody thoughts, feelings, and desires that depict their world. Capture the childhood experiences of friendship and kindness and human emotions, such as anger and hope, in a magical way through writing.

Next week, I’ll explore further into the world of picture books.

Call for submissions for young writers:
Dragonfly. Send us your investigations, poems, short essays, and stories on upcoming themes, and you may be the next Dragonfly. For All Submissions, we Seek:
Writing from your own point of view. Material from third-grade through lower middle school students. Material on upcoming Dragonfly themes. Submit only your very best work. Use language that is sensitive to both boys and girls as well as to people from various cultural, economic, racial, and geographic backgrounds. Focus on a respect for nature, imagination, love of learning, and fun. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, if you want material returned. 400-800 words.
No Deadline.
Details at http://www.units.muohio.edu/dragonfly/submit.shtml

Call for submissions for adult writers:
Boulevard. Pay: $25 to $500. Boulevard strives to publish only the finest in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction (essays, interviews, etc.).
Deadline: Accepts submissions after October 1 and up to May 1.
Details at http://www.boulevardmagazine.org/projects.html

Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/

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