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Picture Books (PB) / Re: Speech Bubbles in PB
« Last post by JulieM on August 04, 2022, 04:33 PM »
Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is a good example of a PB with speech bubbles. Your manuscript could have a short note at the top indicating use of speech bubbles, followed by indications of who's talking. Eg:
Joe: I don't want to eat that!
Marion: Me neither.
Picture Books (PB) / Speech Bubbles in PB
« Last post by Ana K on August 04, 2022, 01:28 PM »
Hi SCBWI. One of my critique partners suggested I turn some of my dialogue into speech bubbles...and I'm curious what that might look like when formatting the manuscript.  Neither he nor I know if that would require an illustration note OR if a speech bubble is something you would even indicate in a PB manuscript. Any thoughts?
Picture Books (PB) / Re: Picture book discussion group
« Last post by helen-thomas on August 04, 2022, 12:27 PM »
Interested. or
Thank you Debbie.  Again, very helpful.
It is actually a faux pas to mention books in a series. If the first book doesn't sell well, no one will want the next one. With picture books, you always say you have more available, but you wouldn't pitch them unless the guidelines say to. (So no specifics.) Most folks expect you to have at least three.
This is very helpful.  I thought it was a faux pas to mention other manuscripts in a query, especially if one is a sequel.  I have a PB manuscript I'd like to start querying soon.  My problem is I like the sequel better than the first book.  It's not a series and each book is a complete story, only the main character is the same.  The only reason one has to come before the other is because, in the first book, the main character is introduced at the end as a small twist.  If you read the second story first, you already know the main character's name.  How much of this should be mentioned in a query?  Also, how many unrelated PBs should be mentioned?
Chapter Books, Easy Readers, and Middle Grade (MG) / Re: Chapter length in MG
« Last post by Ree on August 02, 2022, 06:39 AM »
I think it depends on the rhythm of your story and, for me, that is an important aspect.

That being said, there is a wide variety of chapter lengths. For a MG, I agree that I wouldn't go far over 1800ish. My personal preference is short chapters. It keeps the story moving and the young reader engaged.

With regards to word count, I do know the trend is for longer stories, but my debut coming out next year is 20250 words, so there are always exceptions. I think if the story is very good and the voice is there, but they think it's too short, they'll ask you to revise.

Congrats for finishing your draft. Time to celebrate.  :yay

You've received great advice so far! My polished MG's are on the shorter end, around 35,000 words (a couple dipped a bit under--but none are below 32,000).

The good news is you said you just finished a draft. I tend to write bloated first drafts during NaNoWriMo--and then put my manuscript on a serious diet. There's a good chance you'll find lots of areas to flesh out during revisions. Hopefully, you have an awesome critique group or critique partners.

I'm a huge fan of shorter chapters in my MGs. I think my longest chapter is 6 - 7 pages. Most are in the 3 - 5 page range. Think about what everyone said about a natural break and ending with a cliffhanger whenever possible. Also keep in mind your intended audience.

You can check word counts for books similar to yours on this site:
An agent recently said that there's a trend towards even longer MGs -- it's hard to sell anything under 35K.

What age bracket are you looking at? Upper or lower MG? Or is this actually Hi-Lo (which tend to be shorter) -- which commonly have sports themes?

Once I hit 1800 words in a chapter I do look to see if there's a natural break, or what I can cut.

Remember: a chapter should always have an arc, so shorter chapters aren't just shorter, they're tighter. You still have to something significant to the story. It still has to affect the MC/plot/subplot/etc.

And if a reader sees there's only another 5 pages to get to the next chapter ending instead of 15 maybe you can get them to keep reading :)
Chapters can be separated according to a variety of metrics. One key is to end each with a cliffhanger or question of some kind to keep the reader wanting to move on. Shorter chapters may encourage reluctant readers because they feel like they've accomplished something in finishing a chapter.  Decide on the purpose of each chapter and make sure every scene within it fits that purpose.

That said, I too am concerned that the book is too short for today's market. This is a great time to find beta readers if you haven't already had someone read the full.
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