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 :flowers2  I'm wondering if I can start my picture book with two short lines each spoken by a character who is not the main character. I think I've heard that you have to start with main character in first line and end with main character.

 My first line would be: "Would you like a balloon, young man?" By store clerk. 2nd line: "Go ahead, Benji," said Mom.

Afterwards, can Mom and Clerk just disappear from story and the rest of the story, all dialogue, all further action, concern Benji alone, including last line which Benji speaks?Or would an editor see first line and dismiss w/out reading more because it breaks the rule that first line must refer to protag?

Does anyone have recommendation of where I could buy first-rate professional critique by a well-published picture book writer (with connections?) to help with this and similar problems in this story? I've reworked it a lot and I think it has merit but I fear I break some of the basic "rules" of PB. I  know you can do that WHEN you have established your name but don't think you can get away with as a brand new writer of PBs.

 Frustrated. Thanks, anyone!
#1 - May 30, 2015, 08:30 AM
Carol Samuelson-Woodson

It sounds as if your story does follow the rule of letting the child be the focus of the story, and allowing him to solve issues for himself. 

I wonder, does your first scene have to have dialogue?  Could the illustration show mom and the balloon man, with narrative saying something about Benji accepting the balloon with mom's approval?  OR - could you even have illustration with no narration--unless you need to show that Benji is shy about accepting the balloon?   Just wondered how that would work for you with the rest of your story.
#2 - May 30, 2015, 08:43 AM

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Actually, yes, that's what I'm trying to show: that boy is somewhat shy. I tried to have just illustration without saying anything about mom and clerk, but then when he gets balloon he's transformed to more confident and I just couldn't think of how to get ballon's effect on him and his initial shyness in. Thought of first line being something like, "Benji kept his eyes down ..." But I think "Would you like a balloon ..." more...zippy? Upbeat? Fun?
#3 - May 30, 2015, 03:05 PM
Carol Samuelson-Woodson

Maybe something like:    Without his mother's encouragement, Benji might never have taken the balloon from the balloon man, but he did.  That's how it all started.  (or leave off that 2nd sentence since I really don't know your manuscript.)
#4 - May 31, 2015, 04:05 PM

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Thanks, Barbara-fenn, for your excellent suggestions. I really appreciate your interest!
#5 - May 31, 2015, 09:01 PM
Carol Samuelson-Woodson

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I think your opening is fine with the dialog. Kids will respond to being offered the balloon.

I recommend finding some ways to get free critiques, posting in the SCBWI Online Critiques section or asking for manuscript exchanges in one of the two relevant parts of the board or by finding a local group, before you seek a paid critique. You may decide you don't need to spend the money.
#6 - June 01, 2015, 07:34 AM
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