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How to describe the effort required to write a PB?

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YIKES! I was about to revise my PB ms (a new genre for me),... but now, I'm too scared to!  It sounds IMPOSSIBLE!  :hiding

You can do it, Salina!! Suck that watermelon!!  :ha
#31 - January 18, 2011, 02:49 PM
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Salina, here's an insider tip: get the elephant on a strict diet before attempting the stuffing.
#32 - January 18, 2011, 05:31 PM

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Writing a picture book is like sucking a watermelon through a straw.

This reminds me of a description I once heard of childbirth: Like trying to shove a piano through a keyhole. :dr             

Oh no, where is my favorite smilie? The one who's just sitting there all nice and then goes AHHHH and his eyes pop? I searched through all the smilies looking for it and I don't know his code...  :sigh
#33 - January 18, 2011, 06:41 PM
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 :gaah

this dude? : gaah

and he's third row down beside the waving thank ou and good luck!!!

ETA: oh! this dude!  :ahh last guy on the right in the first row! : ahh
#34 - January 18, 2011, 06:43 PM
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 06:45 PM by Artemesia »
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
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Yes, him! :ahh Yes!

 :thankyou
#35 - January 18, 2011, 06:54 PM
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 :ahh He's my favourite. He says so much with that open mouth and bulgy eyes. In fact, a good smiley is a bit like a good PB - says a lot in very few (none at all!) words.
#36 - January 18, 2011, 06:58 PM

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Didn't Verla once write something of a "wordless picture book" on the boards using smilies? It was  :lmao
#37 - January 18, 2011, 07:06 PM
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I think it's hard to pin down how much time goes into a picture book because it's not like we sit down and type for hours every day. At least for me, it's not so much choosing the words as figuring out how to make the story work. I can think of one I basically wrote in a morning (with maybe another morning for the editor's revisions, a year later when it sold), and another that took eight months--not eight months of solid work, but eight months between getting the idea and making some false starts and putting it down and then realizing one day what I needed to do. Then there were revisions for my agent, revisions for an interested editor, revisions for the editor who bought it . . .
#38 - January 18, 2011, 07:08 PM
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Mara, you're right it's not about hours, that's why I think 'effort' is a more accurate term to use. In terms of actual hours spent actually writing it might not actually be THAT long. The guy I was talking to couldn't grasp why it would be difficult or why it might take a few months to get the point of a story being ready for submission. In terms of actual hours spent writing, you could say a PB can be written in a day, I guess – 24 hours of non-stop writing? Well, not for me, but for other more experienced writers maybe. But the percolating, the stepping away, the thinking about it when you're not at your computer, the critiquing and so on, that all adds on extra hours that aren't necessarily filled with actual writing.
#39 - January 18, 2011, 08:01 PM

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Okay, well, here it is.  Sorry to offend any delicate minds out there -- but all this talk about stuffing an elephant into a breadbox and sucking a watermelon through a straw made me think about....birthing my four kids.  Um, ten pounds of kid.  Out through....well...not a nine-pound laundry chute...AFTER *nine* months of gestation (with all its pain and eleation and confusion and chocolate-needing).

So, I'd say, if your audience is a woman whose gone through this, liken the experience to that! 

That's why we say "the book is my baby", and mean it, whole-heartedly.....
#40 - January 18, 2011, 08:10 PM

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I'm faced with this often since I'm a pre-K teacher and I write YA.  I've taught for 25 years, and written for, oh, so long.  Anyway, I do try to explain, because as I am explaining I feel that I am sharing what makes a good book for young children to people who really have no understanding what young children like or might like, and since I'm passionate about both teaching and reading and writing, I feel like it is an opportunity to educate other teachers, (who I'm often surprised have so little knowledge about literature for children) and parents.  I say how difficult it is to put a beginning, middle and an end, in about five hundred words.  I often try to name off a few known/award winning books such as Where the Wild Things Are, I, Stink, and many of the David Shannon/ Mo Wilum books.  It's an extremely important question to me, since I feel that so many people think they could dip right in and spread their own knowledge and understanding about something they have no knowledge or understanding about.     
#41 - January 18, 2011, 10:49 PM

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Jenna, four kids at ten pounds each?  :bow: I had one ten-pounder (at home) and that was quite enough for me.
#42 - January 19, 2011, 10:55 AM
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I like the birth analogy, too. Different books require different attention and time.

Of course, I can pretty much guarantee that if you say it's like having a child, you'll be talking to a man who thinks it just pops out or a woman who had one of those painless, pushless, carefree pregnancies and deliveries. Some books may be like that, but they're rare.
#43 - January 19, 2011, 12:28 PM

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you'll be talking to a man who thinks it just pops out or a woman who had one of those painless, pushless, carefree pregnancies and deliveries.

There's no such thing!!! LOL I think it's just propaganda spread by men to get us to procreate with them.
#44 - January 19, 2011, 12:43 PM
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Whoops! :slaphead:  Bad sentence construction!!!  No, Mara, only one was that big.  The others were close, though.

Cyn, you're probably right!  Propaganda!!
#45 - January 20, 2011, 06:43 AM

I come from a graphic design background so I think of it as the difference between creating a logo vs. an entire advertising campaign. A logo is tiny but so important and must encapsulate the corporate identity in the blink of an eye. A successful logo (the FEDEX logo, for example) is very difficult to create, though easier for experienced designers. Which also makes me think of Picasso. Remember the story when someone asked him to draw a circle? He drew a perfect circle, handed it to the man, and said, "That will be one million dollars, please." The man said, "But that took you five seconds!" Picasso said, "Yes, but it took me a lifetime to learn how to do that." I'm paraphrasing.

On another note, Carol Burnett said that childbirth is like pulling your lip over your head. :D
#46 - January 20, 2011, 07:32 AM
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It's like having to pour your very best words (you think) through a strainer and keeping whatever makes it out the other side. And then having to condense even more for a query...as far as the birth thing, I've seen it 3 times, live and in color. Got to be easier on the my end of the watermelon than hers.  :chickendance
#47 - January 21, 2011, 05:20 AM

Writing a picture book is like trying to stuff an elephant into a breadbox.
I could get a little sensitive about that remark!  Definitely in my experience it's the word count. Trying to balance the plot, story arc and character structure in such a concise amount of words is a real problem.

Just found an old longhand story written in 1990.  Even that was too long at four words because I could have written just easily in three and still got the story plot out.  I waffled out the "show, don't tell" too much. Just as I am here.
#48 - January 21, 2011, 05:56 AM

Another comparison just popped in my mind. It's like when people see abstract art in a museum and say, "Anyone can do that." Well sure, you could copy something that's already been done, but that's not the same thing.

 :paint

No, I'm not a novelist. I'm a minimalist. :D
#49 - January 24, 2011, 06:29 AM
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All I can say is that I'm in awe of you PB writers...I don't think I could do it! :bow
#50 - January 24, 2011, 07:28 AM
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My critique group just had this discussion because one of our members keeps coming back to the same manuscript, (which I totally believe will be published some day). Joni is depressed because she's been working on this manuscript off and on for five years, though she's written tons of other stuff in between. She said, "Non-writers look at how short it is and can't understand why it's taking so long."

My advice: "Stop talking to non-writers until you have a published book in your hands." There is no way they will get it. It's like Jimmy Buffet said, "Don't try to describe a Kiss concert if you've never seen it."
#51 - January 24, 2011, 07:49 AM

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All I can say is that I'm in awe of you PB writers...I don't think I could do it! Bow Down

Thanks, Marissa! The feeling is mutual (*said the as yet unpublished but hopeful pb writer*).
#52 - January 24, 2011, 09:59 AM
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DianaM, I am guilty of saying exactly that while standing in front of a PICASSO! I was about six at the time, and clearly thought a lot of my artwork. He he.

Marissa, ditto (what DianaM said). All those words in those novel thingies. Hundreds, thousands of them! Eeek!
#53 - January 24, 2011, 12:26 PM

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Put fifteen five-year-olds in a room.
Get their attention.
Keep their attention for fifteen minutes. No gimmicks. No hat tricks.
In less than XXXX words.

Good luck.


People who think PB writing is easy aren't writers. We should invent toddler torture rooms for people who belittle PB writers  just to watch them squirm and suffer. Cheers!
#54 - January 24, 2011, 12:28 PM

Quote
DianaM, I am guilty of saying exactly that while standing in front of a PICASSO! I was about six at the time, and clearly thought a lot of my artwork. He he.

Franzilla-- Me too, now that you mention it. :D For me it was a Jackson Pollock. Just a bunch of paint slopped about, right? What could be easier? LOL.

(Note: not that I'm saying I'm the writing equivalent of a Picasso or Pollock.  :) )
#55 - January 24, 2011, 01:38 PM
« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 04:18 AM by DianaM »
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What, just because it's short and for kids it shouldn't take very long? Or be very difficult? LOL!

Maybe if he knew 1 out of every 5,000 picture books get published, he'd begin to understand? (Got that stat from an editor at Viking. Not sure how accurate it is.)
#56 - January 28, 2011, 03:33 AM

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What about things you can't and must have in a picture book?

Can't have too many words.
Can't have too many characters.
Can't have too much dialogue.
Can't be too complicated.
Can't be too slight.
Must leave things unsaid to be conveyed in pictures.
Must make page turns surprising and fun.
Must have a character who grows emotionally.
Must have a good hook.
Must have a satisfying conclusion.
#57 - January 28, 2011, 03:41 AM

What about things you can't and must have in a picture book?

Can't have too many words.
Can't have too many characters.
Can't have too much dialogue.
Can't be too complicated.
Can't be too slight.
Must leave things unsaid to be conveyed in pictures.
Must make page turns surprising and fun.
Must have a character who grows emotionally.
Must have a good hook.
Must have a satisfying conclusion.
:ahh  Think I need help...BIG time.  Probably why I gave up with PB's.  BTW: I meant to say four HUNDRED, not four words in a previous post.  Now, that would be a miracle! :groan :groan
#58 - January 28, 2011, 05:18 AM

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Another comparison just popped in my mind. It's like when people see abstract art in a museum and say, "Anyone can do that." Well sure, you could copy something that's already been done, but that's not the same thing.

Yeah, well, I said something like that in front of Marcel Duchamp's urinal. And I stand by it. (My comment, not the urinal.)
#59 - January 28, 2011, 10:16 AM
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Quote from: DianaM on January 24, 2011, 09:29 AM
Another comparison just popped in my mind. It's like when people see abstract art in a museum and say, "Anyone can do that." Well sure, you could copy something that's already been done, but that's not the same thing.

Yeah, well, I said something like that in front of Marcel Duchamp's urinal. And I stand by it. (My comment, not the urinal.)

Mara --  :lol2 Well, I guess somebody had to do it! I went to an Andy Warhol exhibit in high school, and I couldn't believe the plastic encased garbage. But then, here I am, still remembering it today. I'm not sure what this has to do with kidlit. Maybe just that you need to have a clear message? A clear voice? Something unique and memorable? Not that I'm advocating weird for weird's sake.



#60 - January 28, 2011, 12:23 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
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