Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Picture Book Savvy, Part 3


Picture book text keeps getting shorter. A couple of decades ago, the target number for most publishers was 1000+. Not today. In order to write a successful picture book for traditional markets, the action has to be distilled into as few words as possible. The story idea should be weighty to provide a narrative tale with a beginning/middle/ending, leave space for illustrations to tell part of the story, and connect with the audience in a positive way.  

Rhythm and cadence are essential, and word choice is the key. Follow your own voice by telling the story as only you can. Write in such a way that your unique storytelling rings throughout. That’s what will define your career. 

Editors are looking for fresh voices, stories that make them stop to reread a sentence and offer something to make them continue reading the next. They want to be enlightened, amused, enthralled, baffled by the actions or questions posed. This does not come from the first draft. Every story needs to be revised until its patina glimmers. 

Revision takes time. Give your manuscript some time off. Walk away and work on another story. This absence is vitally important in order to review your work later with fresh eyes.  

Hand your glimmering draft over to a set of new eyes. Find a critique partner who has read lots of books and who is a practicing writer. Feedback from an informed writer helps you understand what works and what does not. 

One of my dad’s favorite authors, Louis L'Amour, said it this way: Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.  

Call for submissions for Young Writers:

Hanging Loose Magazine welcomes high school submissions.

* Send all work to High School Editor, Hanging Loose, 231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Please also send us a note identifying yourself as a high school age writer, and telling us
your age, and be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope with sufficient return postage.
* Send 3 to 6 poems, or 1 to 3 short stories, or an equivalent combination of poetry and
prose. This enables us to get a good idea of what your work is like.
* All work should be neatly typed. High quality photocopies or readable computer-generated
hard copies are acceptable. A brief biographical statement is welcome. We are always interested in knowing how you found out about us, what school you attend, and so forth.Please Note: We prefer to receive submissions from young writers themselves, rather than from their teachers. We strongly discourage teachers from submitting samples of work from members of their classes. Similarly, we discourage teachers from asking students to submit their work as a class assignment. We prefer teachers to encourage students who take themselves seriously as writers to write us directly.

Hanging Loose has long been known for its special interest in new writers. We read manuscripts throughout the year and we look forward to reading yours.


Call for submissions for Adult Writers:

Storytime Magazine. From spring 2017, we’ll be publishing one new short story in every Storytime issue, which will be credited to its author. If your story is selected, that’s your name and your creation in print forever – and beautifully illustrated to boot! Not only that, but you’ll be part of Storytime’s mission to keep short stories alive and to help children fall in love with reading for pleasure!


Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

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