amwriting, children's books, children's writing, picture book manuscripts, picture books, storyline, work in progress, writing journey


Whoof! This past week I had deadlines at work and this weekend some writing deadlines. I began thinking that I don’t like deadlines.

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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.

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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?

books, endings, storyline

The Deed Was Done

If you read my blog post last week it was about the book Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes and my anticipation of how the ending would turn out.

Well as I expected, she killed off the main character. It was very sad. But, she was right to. I knew it, you probably did too. It made for a poignant ending and a better book. It just wouldn’t have been as good if the end was illogically happy. Although I’m all for illogical happiness, on most occasions.

So, after reading the ending of Me Before You and getting teary as the author probably anticipated or hoped, I thought about other books which caused a similar reaction in me when a main character was killed off.

These are the ones I could remember off the top of my head. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson, Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling, A Dog’s Life, by Ann Martin, and The Overstory, by Richard Powers.

I have to say out of all of them beside’s The Fault In Our Stars, and The Deathly Hallows, the ending of A Dog’s Life really got to me. I didn’t want it. I expected Charlotte’s death, though I didn’t want it, but about a dog, I couldn’t believe the author did the deed. A person’s one thing, but a dog! Really! I remember walking around the house telling anyone who would listen, including my son’s dog, Portia, that the author didn’t have to do it. Portia was in total agreement. I can always count on her for that.

Can’t you see the love.

What are some of your favorite books in which the ending is less than happy?

books, characters, Jojo Moyes, storyline, Will Traynor and Louisa Clark

Caught Up In A Story

I find myself this Sunday in the pleasant I-can’t-wait-to-get-back-to-my-book state. I haven’t been caught up in the storyline affecting two relatable and like able characters in quite awhile and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It changes a bleak toneless Sunday afternoon, the first in December, into a cozy cup of tea and cookie (oatmeal with raisin) kind of day in which getting ready for Monday-time has disappeared.

Still, there is a conundrum. I can’t wait to finish the story, but I know once I do I’ll want it not to have ended. The book in question is, Me Before You. It’s the first book I’ve read by Jojo Moyes. Me Before You begins with a prologue. I confess to often being a skipper of prologues but it was a good thing I didn’t in this case as I’d have had to go back to it once I started in on chapter one. So if you pick up the book start at the prologue, you’ll thank me for it.

The story’s two primary characters are Will Traynor, who due to an unfortunate accident is now a quadriplegic, and Louisa Clark, a local girl who is hired to be his at home helper. Will was once a affluent corporate mover and shaker who is now in the midst of coping with his changed life circumstances. As for Louisa, she has always had to work to help her family and has never gone beyond the confines of her home town. The opportunity to assist Will comes with a hefty salary increase after her job at a nearby cafe abruptly ends and so Louisa takes on the job although she has no experience, or confidence in her ability.

Their relationship goes from caregiver and cared for, to friends, to the possibility that they’ll become something more. As an incurable romantic I’m hopeful that they do. That’s where I am in the story right now. I know you’re wondering why I’m not reading right now. I’ve asked myself that question, but I also have set myself a weekly deadline of posting and since I’m a responsible incurable romantic I’m going to get to it, as soon as I finish this post.

But here’s the thing. The writer in me wonders if Jojo is going to pull the rug out from me, and her characters and off one of them. As a writer it is a tempting thing to do. We’re in fact told to throw as much trouble as you can at our main characters, and I have done that, but in this case as the reader I really don’t want her to. I hope she doesn’t . . .

Listen, I hope you understand. I’ve got to go. I’ll let you know how it ends.

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Any books that have caught you up in their characters, the storyline? Please share, I’m going to be book bereft shortly and I’ll need and injection of good prose to cheer me up.