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Short sentences in PB?

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Not a good thing right?  Not in PB?
#1 - August 28, 2011, 06:06 AM
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You have to tell each pb in the best way possible. In my writing and reading experience, this calls for a variety of sentence lengths.

Sometimes one word-sentences are called for. Sometimes fragments are called for. Sometimes the story calls for short, simple sentences. Sometimes compound sentences are necessary. Sometimes the exact right run-on sentence is the perfect fit (read Leonardo was a Terrible Monster for a fabulous example of this).

Go to your local bookstore and study the pbs. It's one of the best ways to figure out what works in writing pbs.

Best of luck!
#2 - August 28, 2011, 06:50 AM
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Thank you Tammi for answering my question.  Would you say it is best to vary the sentences?  The trouble I have having, and have been told is to make it lyrical.  Had had a great deal of feed back.  But only on person has told me that short sentences followed by dialog is strange.  I think this is an important key.  Truth is I am clueless.

Thank you
#3 - August 28, 2011, 06:57 AM
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If you are very new to this, I wouldn't concentrate on sentence length just yet. Focus on getting the story out. Focus on READING READING READING and STUDYING published pbs.

Writing a pb is like writing poetry. Every word must count.

#4 - August 28, 2011, 07:21 AM
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And ask other people to cold-read each draft aloud to you. Especially if it's read-alouds you're writing. It might be easier for you to hear what works and what doesn't, than to judge by looking. 
#5 - August 28, 2011, 07:37 AM

I absolutely second everything Tammi said--especially about reading currently published picture books. I go to the library almost every week and bring home an armful of books to study. I even type out my favorite ones to see how the author paced the book, to see where the page turns fall, to check out word count, and to get a feel for the book's rhythm.

Good luck!
#6 - August 28, 2011, 01:21 PM
ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES TOO! Candlewick, 2017
LOUD LULA, Two Lions 2015
CALIFORNIA HISTORY FOR KIDS, CRP
FARMER MCPEEPERS Rising Moon

Thank you every one for taking the time to answer my question.  I have been going to the library.  However, I just figured something out.  The picture books that I have been reading are the older ones.  My library has a huge stock of older books. 

Now I am checking out the newer ones.  They are so much better!  And I am learning from them. 

 :banghead
#7 - August 29, 2011, 04:02 AM
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The only way I can really figure out if my PB sentences are working is to read the manuscript aloud.  A lot.  (And I don't mean reading it slowly to yourself and hearing the words in your head, I mean literally hearing the words.)  Particularly if you've read aloud other picture books you like (and don't like), you will begin to hear what does and doesn't work for you.  The issue won't be long or short sentences, but what kinds of sentences and punctuation force the oral reader to read, and allow the listener to hear, the sentences as you intend them to be cadenced.  When sentences don't seem to be working, tapping the rhythm as you read aloud can give you a wonderful sense of how you can improve them, where you need more syllables or a pause before a word you want to emphasize. 

Ann
#8 - September 01, 2011, 06:09 PM
Ann Redisch Stampler

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I don't know if this matters, and I'm by no means an expert ( !!!!!! ) , but the two I've sold recently have sentence lengths of 8 words or less.
#9 - September 01, 2011, 06:35 PM

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Pacing and rhythm are extremely important in pbs.  Make sure the story flows and the sentence lengths will take care of themselves.  If you're writing for very young children, the sentences will probably be shorter.  If you're writing for slightly older children, it's O.K. to vary the length.  It also depends on what's happening in the story.  If there's a lot of action going on, you might want short, punchy sentences.  Read at least 100 picture books that have been published in the last year or two.  The new ones aren't necessarily better--there are some wonderful vintage books as well.  (But, as a vintage author, I would say that, wouldn't I?  :)

Ellen Jackson
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#10 - September 01, 2011, 08:42 PM
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I don't write PBs, but I love them and have read plenty. Some of my kids' favorites were those with very short sentences. One in particular, had nothing but the sentence "Oh no!" throughout the book, and another good one was "All gone". You can work all sorts of emotion into even two-word sentences.  And, of course, great pictures help a lot.
#11 - September 01, 2011, 11:30 PM

Yes, Ellen.  There are some vintage books that are excellent.  Like yours.

 :oops
#12 - September 02, 2011, 11:58 AM
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Oooh!  It hurts to be vintage.  But thank you, Jojo--much appreciated.  (My very most favorite teddy bear was named Jojo.)
#13 - September 02, 2011, 02:06 PM
« Last Edit: September 02, 2011, 09:34 PM by Betsy »
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PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

So Sorry! :oops double  :oops

Ok, I'll shut up now.
#14 - September 02, 2011, 02:43 PM
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I think it depends on the content and the age group reading the book. Some children might pay more attention if sentences are short and images (pages turning) are more powerful. Long paragraphs can become boring for our real young ones. They seem more interested in association with images and short sentences. If you are writing a rhyming book it is important to create a pattern that becomes fun to read. This is just my input. I AM NOT A WRITER.  I am an Illustrator, however, the book I just finished working on is a rhyming book with sometimes only a couple words on a page. I felt that breaking things up and relating images to text can work to your advantage if done correctly.
#15 - November 16, 2011, 02:31 PM

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