Whoof! This past week I had deadlines at work and this weekend some writing deadlines. I began thinking that I don’t like deadlines.
The week coming brings with it more work deadlines. Even my weekly blog post has its own deadline. I’m feeling done with deadlines. My brain needs a deadline break. But since I was on the topic it got me thinking about how important deadlines are to picture books.
Within the first three pages of your thirty two page book, and that after the title, dedication and copyright pages, you need to introduce your character,what his or her goal is and why your character has decided to take action at this particular time.
Talk about a short deadline and the stakes are high. You’ve already used up six pages.
You need to get your character moving along on their journey and introduce the first obstacle that must be overcome, and you need to have them fail.
And you need to use just the right words to make your text sing but be to the point.
The second obstacle. Your character’s second failure.
The third obstacle and failure. Three times for your character cannot be a charm.
You need to have the character demonstrate some inner conflict, some reflection on their failed attempts. You need to show that your character has grown from their efforts.
Then you need your character to figure out a way to succeed, maybe not completely the way they expected to succeed, but they have to achieve their goal or some part of it.
Finally, you need to tie your story up with a satisfying resolution.
You need to do all of the above in the least amount of words.
Remember at the beginning of the post when I said I began thinking I didn’t like deadlines. I thought this post was going to be all about that. But I realized as I was writing that that isn’t true. It can’t be. Otherwise I wouldn’t like creating picture book manuscripts as much as I do. Deadlines are part and parcel of a tight picture book story.
Isn’t it funny how most times something we think of as bad, if looked at in a different way can be something that’s good?