Sunday, July 2, 2017
Tips on picture book revision, continued:
Kid appeal. Children experience the world differently than adults. What adults take for granted is a first-time experience for a child, making the event more exciting, challenging, amazing. The world of a child is filled with wonder.
Consider the age of the target audience before writing the first word. Word choice, sentence length, plot, and theme have to work together to produce a story that appeals to a child’s sensibilities. Generally, books for younger children have fewer words. The story doesn’t preach; it educates, entertains, and explores.
Gatekeeper appeal. Adults decide which books young children will hold in their hands and enjoy. They want picture books that offer something of value, a story that reveals timeless truths. The simple structure, beautiful illustrations, and economy of words create a theme that connects with the child and the adult. I always review my polished draft and ask, will this book be enjoyable on a second reading? Is there an underlying universal theme that the parent and child can discuss? If I don’t ask it, an editor certainly will. Editors often refer to books without a universal theme as “slight.”
Marketability. One more important aspect of revision is the marketability of the story. Are other similar books in the marketplace? How is my book different? What does my book offer that is different from the others?
Just write. We can’t control the market, so write from the heart and tell the story you want to tell.
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