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Writer's Room => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: jacqueline-olson on April 08, 2020, 01:18 PM

Title: Need advice
Post by: jacqueline-olson on April 08, 2020, 01:18 PM
Hi all!  :new

I just wanted to get your opinions on whether or not it would be weird to have twins speak different languages? An editor gave me feedback on my PB, that they thought the story was cute but the fact that the characters were twins & spoke different languages was odd since they obviously grew up in the same household. I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do with the feedback because that was the premise the whole story was based upon...

Also, what do you think about ending the story with a cliffhanger? Will all editors say that’s a no no?

Thank you!
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: dustin-glaseman on April 08, 2020, 02:24 PM
I have definitely heard of twins making up their own languages, but not speaking different languages in the same home - unless they had been separated. What reason do you have for them speaking a different language? If it was related to one twin being shy, scared, or silly, it might work.
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: Mindy Alyse Weiss on April 08, 2020, 04:42 PM
It's hard to tell without seeing your PB. Dustin brought up some great points.

I'm wondering if it has to be twins. Could it be cousins, which would make it easier to understand why they speak two different languages?

The ending needs to be satisfying. There are great books like WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN where readers can decide if it really happened or it was just in the boy's imagination, but readers shouldn't leave with an unsettled feeling. The best endings are surprising, yet when you look back at everything, make total sense--and make readers want to dive into the book again and again.

Have you run it through your critique group and/or the critique section of our board?
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on April 08, 2020, 08:06 PM
If you're leaving a cliffhanger as if this will be book one of a duology, that will turn people off. Picture books are pricey, especially hard covers. Readers may not want to have to buy a second one to learn how it ends. (And if the first doesn't sell well, the second may never go to press.) But anything like what Mindy is saying is fine.

There has to be a logical story reason for the characters to speak different languages. It doesn't have to fit this world, but it must make perfect sense in the world of your story.
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: dinalapomy101 on April 09, 2020, 07:13 PM
How old are the twins?

Could it be that they live in a dual language household and one mimics one parent who speaks language A and the other mimics the other parent who speaks language B?
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: jacqueline-olson on April 09, 2020, 07:34 PM
Thank you all for your feedback!

Mindy, you are right, I definitely need to share my PB with a critique group. I am totally stuck right now as I have no clue how to create a satisfying ending...
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: BonnieJoy on April 10, 2020, 10:49 AM
Could they be aliens? Human twins could never speak 2 different languages (each having one that the  other doesn't speak), but as Debbie says, it could make sense in the world of your story. It could be cute in a non-human world. I vote no for a cliffhanger.
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: Vijaya on April 10, 2020, 05:27 PM
There has to be a logical story reason for the characters to speak different languages. It doesn't have to fit this world, but it must make perfect sense in the world of your story.

This.

I am totally stuck right now as I have no clue how to create a satisfying ending...

When I'm stuck, it's usually because I've plotted myself into a corner. Why not work backwards? You want X to happen and what would lead to that? Maybe the premise doesn't need to be what you think it does.

I grew up multi-lingual and I can totally see siblings in a family having a preference for one language over the other. I liked some of the ideas proposed here--aliens! That got me thinking about pets--parrots and myna birds and starlings can all talk. Maybe the kids are speaking to animals in their own languages? You could really have some fun with this. It'd be the Cat's Meow.

Oh, no cliff-hangers please. Not in a PB. But a surprise ending! That's where the delight comes in.
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: jacqueline-olson on April 10, 2020, 05:52 PM
Thank you so much Vijaya!! What a lovely idea to involve pets... also your advice on how to get unstuck is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!!
Title: Re: Need advice
Post by: Venessa Ann Schwarz on April 12, 2020, 01:04 PM
Hi! I don't have much to add to what the others said, but as long as the story explains why the twins  speak two different languages, you should be good to go. Good luck! :flowers2