At last! At last! 12 x 12 in 2012 is here!!

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you had a great celebration to ring in the New Year.  I also hope that after you are finished watching football and nursing whatever *ahem* hangover you might have, you are ready for DAY ONE of the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, fire up your laptops, your tablets, your PCs because today you may start writing your first picture book draft for the challenge!

Here to kick us off is none other than author Tara Lazar – the founder of Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo).  I am so tickled to have Tara here today because it is she, after all, who set us on this path by having us set down all those great ideas in November.  To make it even sweeter, Tara is offering one lucky 12 x 12er a picture book critique. Hooray!

To enter to win the critique, you must be an official challenger and have signed the form as explained here.  Then, leave a comment on this post any time during the month of January for one point.  On the last day of the month, we’ll check in and if you completed a picture book draft, you can comment there to get another point.  I will draw a winner using and announce on February 2nd.

Now, Take it Away Tara!

What better place to begin the 12×12 challenge than at the end?

Seriously—the end of your story.

Most of us know the importance of the first line in hooking the reader. Well, the end is where you can lose them—forever.

At the end, your entire story can fall apart. Splat flat on its face. Writing a wondrous 450 words means nothing if the last 50 are wimpy. Your reader will shove your story back on the shelf with a mere “meh.”

The key to writing a memorable picture book, a best-seller, is not in its readability but its re-readability. Parents aren’t going to plunk down $16 on something their kids will only want to experience once. You’ve got to punch-up the ending.

As a creative writing major in college, I rarely finished a story (and somehow they gave me a diploma anyway). I thought there was some mystical formula for ending a story that the professors were holding hostage. I was waiting for someone to tell me what to do. No one explained that you finish a story by…well…finishing it. Don’t let it linger. Sit down and get’r’done!

Now I realize that’s not great advice. So I’m going to tell you three things about endings that I wish I knew back then.

  1. Wrap presents—not endings—with neat little bows.
    When in life is any solution so tidy? Crossing all your i’s and dotting all your t’s—strike that, reverse it—tends to feel unsatisfying because it’s too easy, too clean. It’s not honest. So be careful about making everything scream “happily ever after.” Leave a little opening for your readers to crawl through and explore what happens next. Let their imagination tie up the loose ends.
  2.  The circular ending can be clever and fun.
    As you approach the conclusion of your story, re-read the beginning. Is there any way to echo the opening, to bring the characters back to where they started, but have them arrive as changed beings? They’ve taken an emotional journey and they’re not the same characters they were a few hundred words ago, so what about the beginning has changed at the end? In my picture book THE MONSTORE, one of the final lines is the same as the opening line, with just a few key word changes that make it totally different. And the reader can imagine another story jumping off from this old-but-new sentence.
  3. The twist extends the story beyond the story.
    Bringing a twist to the end means you’re adding something unexpected that leaves room for more story to happen once the book is closed. Remember point #1 above? The twist tangles the loose ends. Think of CLICK, CLACK, MOO. Was the story over when the cows and chickens got their electric blankets? Nooooo. The clever duck never brought the typewriter back! And the flock demanded a diving board! Hilarious! So think about what little twist you can tack onto your story to give a final guffaw. A story that ends on a smile guarantees it will be read again and again.

Tara Lazar is a picture book author, mother, foodie and boogeyman assassin, currently booked at 3am nightly. She’s the creator of Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoidMo), the picture book writer’s alternative to NaNoWriMo, held every November on her blog at Her first two picture books, THE MONSTORE and I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK will be released by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in 2013 and 2014. Follow her kidlit capers at

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Goals, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Yay! I’m first! (squeals in delight)….. How super to have Tara open up the 12×12 challenge, I just love it, and what great advice, even having that little twist at the end can open up a whole new begining somewhere else….who knows! This is so super and I have another file in my folder aptly headed 12×12 quest spots! so I will print out the quest posts… as they are always full of such excellent advice. Thanks Tara and thankyou Julie… Awesome start!

  2. Great advice, Tara. I love circular endings in picture books and love writing them too; I think they give nice symmetry to the story.

  3. And we’re off! What a great way to start our 12×12 challenge. Thank you Tara. Thank you Julie.

  4. I always enjoy hearing what Tara has to say! So informative and inspiring. 🙂
    Lynne Marie,

  5. Thank you, Julie, and thank you, Tara! These three suggestions are components in all of our favorite read alouds in my house. Happy New Year!

  6. What a great way to start the 12×12 challenge!! Great advice, Tara!! Thank you again, Julie for doing this!

  7. And we’re off!

    Julie, you certainly chose the perfect person to begin our challenge. Thank you! And thank you, Tara, for such excellent advice. (How I wish I’d waited a couple of days before sending my last manuscript off for evaluation!)

    Now… do you think I can wait until after breakfast to start on my January 12 x 12 draft? … … I didn’t think so either.

    Thanks again, Julie!

  8. Julie, what a great way to start this new adventure in 2012.

    Tara, I so admire your wisdom and willingness to share your insights with new writers like myself. If we are smart enough to listen to your advice, it will save us many frustrations down the road because we won’t be the ones scratching our heads and wondering, “why don’t they like my story?”…let the New Year writing begin!

  9. Circular endings are so much fun to write and to read. When I first started writing, I wrote one by accident and a critter explained to me what I had done. I was thrilled. This is excellent advice, Tara. Julie, you sure did pick the write 🙂 person to start us off! Let’s get going! 🙂

  10. I heard of circular endings before but I really didn’t know what that meant. I get it now and can think of expamples of books like this “We are in a book” by Mo Willems. Thanks!

  11. It gave me a bit of comfort to learn Tara struggled with endings a bit. I am always rushing my endings. Whenever I revise, the ending usually changes the most, mainly because it’s missing!

    What are some other titles with great endings? I’m trying to read one new picture book a day for this entire year. Any suggestion?

    My kids loved “There’s a Monster at the End of this Book” when they were little.

    🙂 Happy Writing,
    Irene Kistler

  12. Great way to start this challenge! Thank you Tara and Julie!

  13. Lori Grusin Degman

    I couldn’t think of a better person to start us off on our 12×12 journey – awesome choice, Julie and awesome post, Tara!! I totally agree about endings – they can make or break the whole book! Always leave ’em laughing!

  14. Great kick-off for the years. Thank you Julie. and thank you Tara for your thoughts. Let the fun begin!

  15. Fantastic tips, Tara! Wishing you both the best of luck with this fab contest…and a wonderful start to the new year. 🙂

  16. I love this adivice about endings, Tara. It applies to any story, not just a picture book. Julie, I’ll be looking for more of your posts about the 12 x 12, even though I’m not participating.

  17. Great advice, Tara. I’ve just typed up some notes for the first one and I must admit though the ending is cute it could be more of a twist or a link back to the beginning. We’ll see. Hopefully we can all allow ourselves to brainstorm potential endings and not stick to the first one we think of (I do that a lot).

  18. That was a very fun start! And the tips are great–very helpful. Well, now I just need to start writing so I can end it.

  19. Thank you Julie and Tara for an excellent start! I usually go for a circular ending, but I must admit I thought the CLICK, CLACK, MOO ending was genius — gotta love that duck! Great advice all around. Off we go!

    • I am checking out Click, Clack, Moo the next time I go to the library! It’s been ages since I read it. Any other titles with great endings you can recommend?

  20. Thank you for this great blog, Tara! It came at the perfect time. I’ve been waiting for divine intervention to finish my picture book when I looked back at a previous draft and found that I had originally ended it with a circular ending that I’m going to use. Happy New Year, and thank you for doing this Julie!

  21. Fantastic ideas Tara! Julie, thank you so much for organizing this! I have had my list of ideas brewing in my head just waiting to go! Happy New Year to all, and good luck on a creative year in writing!

  22. OMG! I am still working on stories from 2011. What have I gotten myself into? Perhaps 2012 is the year for me. Thanks for an inspiring post, Tara.

  23. What great advice! I am inspired to begin right this very moment. Happy New Year!

  24. Meh?! Ugh! That would be the worst response EVER to the end of a story. It’s worse than, “I hated that!” I’ll take hatred over meh any day! Thanks for the tips and for a great kick off to a great challenge.
    (Mom of Cupcake the Blogging Dog)
    (Author of Keep Your Ear on the Ball)

    • I agree, Genevieve! I would rather have a hated ending over an apathetic one. I personally hated the ending of The Giver, but loved the novel.

  25. Thanks for this post — as it happens my current project has an ending that isn’t quite “there”. Your suggestions are great food for thought 🙂

  26. Thanks Tara for a great post! This will help me so much. Endings are a challenge for me. Thanks for the tips!

    Great way to start off the challenge, Julie! Good luck everyone!

  27. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Tara. I look forward to applying it over the course of 12 x 12 and gettin’ ‘er done!

  28. Tara, thank you so much for the thoughts and advice on writing! Very much appreciated! And I can’t wait to begin to tackle 12×12 at last!

  29. Tara, thanks for the reminder that the end is just as important as the beginning. Great post!

  30. The ending always stumped me. It felt like saying goodbye. Thank you, Tara, for showing me that goodbye is not goodbye. It’s really saying hello again.

  31. What a wonderful and helpful post! And so true! Endings are crucial because you’re right – it’s all about re-rereadibility! Thanks for the pointers, Tara, and thanks Julie for organizing this fabulous event. I’m so looking forward to 12X12!

  32. Kicking off the new year with an ending. Your surprising first message is thought-provoking. I’m going to look for the little crawl space left in endings of kid lit I read this year. And I have to admit that my most successful published book had just such an ending–though I couldn’t have put into words, as you so able did–why it worked! Thank you for getting us thinking and giving us something to attempt as we write.

  33. Thank you Julia and Tara. I often don’t know my ending until I get there (I know, I know this is inadvisable!) and really work on getting the twist into endings this year! Super advice!

  34. Thank you Julie and Tara. Great tips on endings and this is the second reference I’ve seen to CLICK, CLACK, MOO. It’s a sign! And, we’re off into the new year writing ….

  35. Thanks for the great post! My two current favorite endings in picture books are “The Queen of France” by Tim Wadham and “A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea” by Michael Ian Black.

  36. Thank you for the advice! I am going to use this info to help develop my book idea, Neurosis Cat…

  37. So excited to join! I just wrote my first PB manuscript and I am now working it up into a dummy(with sketches as I am an illustrator). Now I am totally hooked. This is just what I need to keep me on my toes and keep the ideas rolling! Thanks so much 🙂

  38. “Splat flat on its face.”
    Ouch! Endings can be tough.

    As Jo Mentioned, cirucular endings bring a nice symmetry to a story.

    However, I’m also a huge fan of endings with a twist whether it be a “WHAT?!, LOL!, or has the reader wondering what’s the MC going to do next.

    “punch-up the ending.”
    Nice, Tara! When I think of “punching something up” I visualize an energy.
    Just what a good ending needs!

  39. Pencil? Check. Notebook? Check. Essential words of wisdom from Tara? Double-check. Thanks for the great “endings advice” to get us off to a good start. Let’s see if I’ve got it right: dot the T’s and cross your I’s and circle ’round your partner…

  40. This ties right in with the “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first” theory of drafting a PB! Do you choose sweet chocolate cake or the savory fruit and cheese platter? How do you want the tale to end? How does your MC want it to end? What are alternative endings? Yes, please, to the twist ending, the…”And the reader can imagine another story jumping off from this old-but-new sentence” ending, but no to the flat, one joke punch line.

    Thanks Tara, for a terrific launch and to Julie for getting us off to a great 2012!

  41. Great tips! Way to start the New Year with a bang. Now I just need to follow Tara’s advice and finish the year that way as well. 🙂

  42. Great post! I thought I had the ending to my picture book dummy completely set, but Tara your post just gave me an idea for a way to end the story with an even tighter visual twist than before. THANK YOU! *runs off to drawing table*

  43. Can’t wait for this new opportunity

  44. I’m only setting one “resolution” this year – and it’s to stick to this wonderful and ongoing challenge! Tara, you’ve hit on an unexpectedly motivating topic – the happiness of a good ending – and I’m raring to write my first draft to that end! I’m loving this already. Yee-Haw!

    I’d be grateful for any posts with efficiency tips for Boogeyman Banishment, BTW…>

  45. Thanks for kicking off the new year with some great inspiration. So excited for this challenge! Happy 2012!

  46. Love the ideas for story endings. Thank you!
    I am very much looking forward to this challenge. Great idea!

  47. Great post, especially the following sentence:
    “The key to writing a memorable picture book, a best-seller, is not in its readability but its re-readability. ”
    I am looking forward to the challenge and feeling inspired!

  48. Thanks, Tara! Thinking of twisted endings with surprise isn’t my forte. I enjoyed hearing from you once again!

  49. All great tips, Tara! Thank you so much for kicking this off with helpful and practical advice. I am completely bummed that I missed your PiBoIdMo challenge, but I am so ready to participate next year!!! 🙂 Thanks again Julie for all of your hard work!!!

  50. I am very excited to be a part 12×12 and being a part of this community of such talented people. I was a little late starting the PiBoIdMo challenge & fell short a few ideas, so I’m glad to be starting at the beginning of 12×12!
    Thanks Tara & Julie!

  51. Fantastic!!
    Tara, you actually REALLY helped me with the story I began today. I believe I will END it first! I never thought this theory would work, but it does. I think it takes a ton of pressure away, right from the beginning (no pun intended!).

    Thanks, ladies! This is going to be a wonderful year!

  52. Thank you for the great advice on endings, Tara! I’m going to try and incorporate at twist into the tale I’m writing this month. And thank you, Julie, for giving me the inspiration (and kick-in-the-butt) I need to write up more of my PiBoIdMo ideas than I did last year. Looking forward to the challenge!

  53. Wow, what advice! Tara, I feel like you just splashed cold water on my face. I’m awake! I’m awake! And my brain is churning at 5 AM.

  54. Thank you Tara! Love that you kicked this off and thank you Julie for giving us a place to keep our momentum going!!

  55. Thanks, Tara for giving me the nudge to come up with ideas during PiBoIdMo, not necessarily great ideas, but ideas nonetheless (up to me to make them great, I know). Now you turn around and give me great advice about endings! Wow what a great way to start the year. Enough partying, time to get to work.

    Julie this is a great follow-up. I love the badge. It’s my wallpaper for the next year.

  56. Rachel Smoka-Richardson

    I also struggle with endings, and your advice will be enormously helpful. Thank you for sharing!

  57. Thanks, Tara, for the great advice, I need all I can get. Surely some of what I’ve learned through you and others will pay off eventually. 🙂 I admire your energy and commitment.
    Julie, thanks for taking on/creating this new challenge for us. I love this community!

  58. Alright! Fasten your seatbelts and away we go! Looking forward to this wonderful challenge! Thank you, Tara for the inspiring words about endings. And Julie…thank you for this amazing journey we are all about to embark on. Onward! 🙂

  59. Great post! I’m up for the 12×12

  60. Nice post, thanks for the tips!

  61. Here goes! Thanks for the tips, Tara!

  62. Tara, what a great start to the 12 x 12 challenge. Since soo many of us have a notebook full of ideas from PiBoIdMo, you are an inspiration to begin the first draft. I have many that are beckoning me to write – the challenge now is which one to start with.

  63. Love this…and love beginning at the end! I get lost in the middle…so looking forward to more posts!

  64. Great advice on endings! Let’s get started!

  65. Yeah! I now have a totally solid ending to my umpteenth edit of the story I’ve been working on since February. I was headed in the right direction of mirroring the beginning, but just needed one more little tweek to bring it home. Thanks Julie & Tara! The idead for this month is out of the gate and quickly racing to the finish line.

  66. Endings are my biggest issue! Thank you, Tara!

  67. Ready, set, go! Thank you Julie and Tara.

  68. Thanks for the good advice – will definitely consider the end at the start. Ready for 12×12.

  69. Wonderful post, Tara! Re-readability — and make the kid smile at the end. These are really helpful points!

  70. Definitely re-readability. And sometimes that aspect IS found at the ending of a book. Thanks!

  71. After reading this post, I think I know how my 2nd PB draft will end!!!! 😀 Thank you Tara for an enlightening post 😀

  72. Great post. I often begin writing with an endling in mind but the challenge is “the twist”. Thanks for your insight.

  73. Thanks Tara and good idea Julie on the 12 x 12.

  74. Penny Klostermann

    Thanks for kicking off 12 x 12 in 12 with your wonderful advice for endings! It will be useful at LEAST 12 times :•)

  75. Hi,
    This is just what I need to complete my book series. I have been thinking and working on it of an on for a long while.


  76. I am so glad I discovered 12 x 12 in 2012!
    Thank you for the advice on endings.

  77. Great post 🙂 I’m struggling with the ending for my first PB… some wonderful advice here.

  78. Thanks for the post, Tara – and for this whole challenge, Julie! I have always liked the circular ending, and want to practice the others more often. Happy 2012!

  79. Thank you for the advice on endings. I have now gone back to my MS, and with a slight change to the last line, have opened up the ending to engage the reader’s imagination and sense of mischief. I have always concentrated on tying everything up neatly at the end and it doesn’t have to be that way.
    Re-readability will be my catch phrase during 12 x 12 in 2012.

  80. I am in also…debated for a while, but already Tara Lazar’s comeents have prompted a revision of a story I wrote in November, that needs a better ending…thanks Tara! Excited about the challenge!

  81. Excellent tips! And a great send-off. Thank you, Tara.

  82. Love this nugget — “it’s not readability but re-readability”…may have to “borrow” that line for my presentation tomorrow. Thanks, Tara, for starting us off!

  83. Great tips, Tara! Thanks for the inspiration-

  84. This was just the advice I needed… for an existing manuscript with a less-than-perfect ending as well as my first new pb for the 12×12 challenge. Thank you!

  85. Lovely advice! I definitely think that rereadability is the biggest key with PBs.

  86. Helpful post by Tara! We see so much written on hook-’em beginnings but sometimes it’s the ending that’s hard to hook. I appreciate these practical tips. Now back to my picture book manuscripts…

  87. Yayhoo!!! I so appreciate you Julie and Tara!! Thank you for working so hard to encourage all the newbies

  88. Going to try writing the ending (s) first. Knowing where I’m heading will, hopefully, make the beginning obvious. Miles to go before I sleep…git’r done. Thanks, Tara and Julie.

  89. Here’s hoping the end of 2012 finds each of us with 12 lovely finished pbs!

  90. What a great start Tara. That’s fantastic advice. Thanks for sharing it with us. Thanks also to Julie for setting it all up. I’ve found the support very encouraging. Happy writing everyone.

  91. Thank you for the excellent post. I’m enjoying the challenge so far. I only hope I can keep it up all year long.

  92. Thanks for this insightful post. As a nonfiction PB writer, I find it all too easy to just let the end of the story trail off rather than really write an ending. I think I’ll go back and study some of my favorites, like Steve Jenkins, for some clues.

  93. Great advice and now I am going to go and have another look at my endings. 🙂

  94. Thanks, Tara. I think I’m really going to love the 12 x 12 challenge.

  95. Thanks for kicking off 12×12! I enjoyed piboidmo so much! great advice on endings.

  96. Finally getting around to commenting on your post, Tara. I find I have been mulling over your advice about endings. The more I think about it, the more your advice is helping me shift the way I think about writing a picture book. Some of the drafts I have won’t change, but I do like thinking about adding some of that circularity (is that even a word) into my writing. As a school librarian, I know this kind of book reads well, is well received and is easy to tie into curricular goals. What’s better than that?

    Thanks for getting me thinking.

  97. Wonderful thoughts Tara. Endings are always a challenge for me, and your post has made me reflect on my favorite PBs. They all leave space for the reader to imagine a whole world after the “ending.”

  98. This is wonderful! Exciting! I’m all in! What a great forum!

  99. Great advice. You can often find the ending by going back to the beginning. Also, when you run into writer’s block, it helps to sift through what you have so far. Usually, you already have the answer you need.

  100. Thanks, Tara–click,clack, moo is one of my favorites because it leaves you with possibilities. Appreciate your insights-one of my favorite sayings is, ‘you will never finish unless you begin.’

  101. Wonderful information… wrapping things up can be so tough! Love these ideas, and looking forward to the release of your picture books Tara! Thanks

  102. Ooh, I read this while I was away, but didn’t have a chance to reply. Thanks for the amazing kick off, Tara. I used to love tying everything up in a glittery, pink bow…but you’re right that stories are so much more interesting if you let the imagination of your readers tie up the loose ends–or weave them into a new story.

  103. Begin with the end in mind! As a teacher, that’s what I have to do. Looking forward to the beginning, the middle, and the end products of this challenge!

  104. That was just what I needed to read. Tara and Julie, what a great way to kick off the challenge. I am ready. I am committed. Most importantly, I’m excited!

  105. Vera Lisa Smetzer

    Tara, I love stories with the circular or twist endings and a bit of humor! I know they are always popular in the local library’s morning reading group as well! I think it’s a reminder on endings that I should have on a 3 X 5 card on my computer! 🙂

  106. A great range of ending ideas! I cant wait to see what stories I can get down on paper out of my head…thank you for this post !

  107. Some great tips in there. Thanks Tara. * Rushes off to have another look at the endings on all my drafts *

  108. Great advice Tara! Thank you for sharing, and leaving us hungry for more!

  109. I did piboidmo in 2010, but I was disappointed not to participate in 2011. So I was thrilled when a writer in my group told me about the 12×12 challenge. My day job has been more demanding than ever, so I’m so glad this has forced me to carve out writing time. I’ve written a pb draft that I’m excited about polishing. Thanks for helping to keep us inspired and creating!

  110. “Let their imaginations tie up the loose ends.”
    I love that! Thanks for that advice.

  111. cant wait to get into this challenge!! Jan down.. bring on Feb!

  112. I am going back to past manuscripts and see if I can make them a circular story. Thanks so much!

  113. Thank you sooo much Tara! I have just written a small picture book story with no ending… because I don’t know how to end it. Your advice is more than helpful! Now I know what to do. Thank you!

  114. Great advice and very motivating. In Australia we’re pretty good with fireworks so hope we can sparkle as well with Picture Book ideas!. Thanks so much.


  115. I love Click Clack Moo! After working and working on the opening line sometimes I forget to give the ending the same going over and over and over…. Am going to use my imagination to see what twists I can come up with. Thanks Tara.

  116. Great post – Thanks Tara and Julie. I love twist and circular endings. I am so excited about being involved in this challenge!

  117. I just scrolled through the comments and realized that my initial comment was made when I was still using my old blog, elizabethannewrites, so I wanted to make sure I was on here with my current and true information!

  118. And I thought I had already commented here….. wow! just as well I checked. I love all the great tips you share. Now off back to thinking about my Feb Manuscript.

  119. Have just re-read this as am struggling with end of first draft PB of the year. Circular ending – now, there’s a thought. Checked my all time fave ‘Room on the Broom’ and, yep, very similar text to beginning. Off to see what I can do!

  120. Thanks for the advice and guidance, I think I may be guilty of trying to have neat endings. I will now try your suggestions. I am loving the 12 x 12 and look forward to next month.

  121. I’ve done a lot of research into beginnings but I think the time has come to tackle the ends. I love coming full circle.

  122. Thank you Tara … now I need to tackle the end…. and the beginning!

  123. Endings are definitely crucial – they can make or break the whole story! Thanks for this helpful post!

  124. Thank you for the great tips when we write our stories.
    This was a very helpful post.

  125. As usual, GREAT advice! Can’t wait to get started on one a month. 🙂

  126. I like circular endings, and I have been known to write poetry with a circular ending. It works in illustrations, too, They can be funny and satisfying, or, I suppose, a little frustrating for the character in the story.
    Thanks, Tara, for this great reminder.

  127. Thanks, Tara – great advice, and not just for PBs! That #2, I call a “refrain.” (The thing you come back to that is oh so satisfying for the reader.) I love that in books of all type.

  128. Richard Peck (THE RICHARD PECK!) in speaking about MGs once advised to write your rough and when you finish, go back and rewrite Ch. 1 Same concept for PB. thanks, for more good advice.

  129. I am so happy that I signed up for this challenge. It has given me a chance to meet many great writers and have many interesting discussions that have provided me information that is going to help my writing. Thank you for organizing this amazing event.

  130. Thanks again, Tara, for your sound advice, which by the way, I go back to often.

  131. Thank you Tara… this has been very helpful!

  132. Thank you for the wonderful advice Tara! I am looking forward to February! 🙂

  133. Thanks for the advice. I am so excited!!

  134. Those are great reminders, Tara. We’re so conditioned to think “and they lived happily ever after,” and “the end,” when life isn’t like that at all.

  135. Wonderful advice and such good things to remember Tara! Thanks for the extra “kick.” We can all use that motivation. I love picture books that have twists! I’m actually working on that today. 🙂

  136. Of course every word is important in a PB but the beginning and ending can really change a so-so story into a dynamite story!

  137. Great post! And please put me in the running. 🙂 e

  138. Thank you, Tara!
    I thought I commented before, but it must have been in the wrong place! So important with picture book words as well–even if the words are good you’ve got to put them in the right place, or sometimes they don’t work.

  139. Thanks for the reminders! I do tend to wrap endings in bows sometimes at the request of my clients/publishers – who want everything happy. A good reminder that there is a place for my original, un-bowed endings in kidlit, too. 🙂

  140. Just reread the advice for my fourth draft this month and low and behold another bit pops out (so now I have the info ‘saved’!). Thanks for the help and the wonderful opportunity

  141. Kathleen Cornell Berman

    Thanks Tara! My brain is clicking away with your words of wisdom about writing an open-ended ending. So important in creating a book that kids want to read over and over again. Looking forward to this 12 x 12 challenge!

  142. Great Stuff! Here we go! Would be nice if at the end of the year one of us got a picture book contract….

  143. Great stuff here. i tend to “wrap up” too neatly!

  144. I agree. Good endings leave your audience with a satisfying aftertaste in their mouths. It’s true for movies as well. BTW, my kids watched the movie version of “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” recently and while they enjoyed the antics of the penguins, I was left with a bland taste in my mouth. Why? The ending was artificial.

  145. Lovely, Tara. And so appropriate for this fun challenge. When I think of endings, the word that comes to mind is HOPE. We leave them with hope. So glad you mentioned CLICK, CLACK, MOO. It’s in the basket I haul to my picture book presentations. Fun stuff there…

    You are one busy, busy lady, and I’m grateful you take time to support other writers. Best wishes on your projects, especially all these new picture book drafts that will be appearing!

  146. thanks for the advice – great words of wisdom!

  147. Happily ever after out. Imaginatively read ever after in. Thanks for articulating this so well. Now to apply it!

  148. Hi! It’s me, Ty!
    I have never thought of starting from the end…making sure the end is something that will really stick with the reader. Awesome, awesome advice, as always *wink, wink*.

  149. Wise words indeed! Thanks so much for the help! (I need all the help I can get!) It is mucho appreciated! *waving*

  150. Picture book idea month was a great experience and I have the feeling 12 X 12 in 2012 is going to reach the same heights. Thanks, Tara, for kicking it off with ideas about endings and thanks, Julie, for getting us started.

  151. Great advice Tara! Thanks for sharing.

  152. I can’t remember if I’ve already commented on this post or not… so I’ll comment again! Thanks for the advice on great endings. I really look forward to the 12 x 12 x 12 challenge!

  153. Reviewing this advice often. Thanks again Tara for launching. First PB draft done and I think I had a good wrap. This will be so much fun!

  154. Yikes! I signed up on time for 12 x 12 and I’ve been confirmed as a participant. But in reviewing all these comments, I can’t find one from me 🙁 So on the off chance that this will still count, I’m leaving a comment. Tara, great advice! In fact, my finished PB for January had a circular ending!

  155. Somehow I missed this at the beginning of the month, but what a perfect time to read about endings as I’m struggling with mine! I love Click Clack Moo… thanks for capturing what makes that ending work so well!

  156. I’m so excited about this challenge! I finished a story draft for January. Way too wordy, but it’ll give me something to work with.

    I’m stuck on my ending (of course) & Tara’s definitely given me something to think about.

  157. It’s probably a good thing that I wasn’t sure if I had left a comment…I hadn’t, but scrolling through the 128 comments above this one was kind of like meeting many of the 12 x 12 participants.

    Tara, your insights will definitely help me in this challenge…and in my desire to write picture books that children will want to read over and over again. Just because I have had a love affair with picture books for over 60 years and have read 1000’s of them to 100’s of kids, does NOT mean I know how to WRITE great ones. 🙂

    I’ve got my January PB draft completed.
    On to February…my heart is singing…thank you a million times, Julie, for organizing 12 x 12!

  158. Thank you, Tara. Will re-read some of my own manuscripts and check for re-readability!

  159. I while heatedly agree with you comment about how important it is for your story to have “re-readability”. I know my kids have their favorites that are wrecked. The pages are taped and re-taped. The binding is worn. Some pages are really wrinkled or chewed. 😉 Those are the picture books that make memories!

  160. Brilliant advice, Tara. Thank you for this.

  161. Endings can be really difficult, but it is SO satisfying when you finally hit one the perfect one.

    Thanks for your inspiration, Tara!

  162. thanks so much for gathering all of us together on this 12 x 12 journey! I love group goals like this and thanks, Tara, for the great advice on endings.

  163. Thanks for the great post. Endings are hard and you give us some good points to consider. Will be using my PiBoIdMo ideas as I work on this new 12x12x12 challenge.

  164. Great Info! Thanks for tips from Tara! And thanks to Julie for creating such a fantastic challenge!! And let the writing begin…!!

  165. Thanks, Julie and Tara, for getting things going. Let the games begin! (and, okay–end).

  166. As with Jane, I can’t recall if I already commented. So, I’ll comment and update: I got a fast start then hit a wall at 75% or so. Argh!! Oh well, sometimes pressure is what we need. I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow!

  167. Tara, you really helped me finish something that’s been sitting in my computer all month. I just kept avoiding the end—the hardest part! So thanks for the inspiration!

  168. Tara and Julie, Thanks to both of you for kicking our butts into gear and giving us a great motivator to get those stories written!

  169. I’ve found a treasure trove of good information, helpful advice, encourage, and unexpected honesty since I chanced upon the 12×12 in 12 contest–and its so amazing! I look forward to seeing all the future work and posts day by day. Thanks for the love. 🙂

  170. Hey Tara,
    This is some great advise. I’ve gotten pretty good at two, but never considered one or three. These will be great ideas to practice over the next 11 months.

  171. Tara,

    I have a good friend who is a faithful user of the “meh” you mentioned so I am constantly reminded of how important it is to hook a reader not just with your beginning, but also with your ending. I totally see how your three points can make a huge difference in the life of a reader. Each of my siblings growing up had their own stories that they insisted I read to them over and over again and now looking back, the endings all had that hook that you discussed in your post. I guess I just forgot about that element in my own writing so thanks for bringing it up again!

  172. Elizabeth McBride

    Oh Tara! I think you hit the nail on the head with the comment about re-readability! I know the story is a hit with my students when they are clamoring to check out the book that contains the story I JUST finished reading to them! We have used the circle story (that’s what we call them) to experience for ourselves how authors get ideas from life and from the things they read. It helps my students see the tie between themselves and the writers they can be.

  173. A circular ending that hints of repetition is a great idea. Kids love to hear a great line again and again. It’s the stuff memories are made of. My kids and I often quote lines from stories, as our inside jokes. I’ll tuck this idea away for sure!

  174. Love the comment, “wrap presents, not endings!” Reflecting on all of my favorite picture books, I see the *surprises* or *what ifs* that are left behind. Thanks for the reminder — and the other great advice. 🙂

  175. This post was perfect for my draft this month…I HAD to start at the end and work backwards. Not sure I would have figured out how to tell this particular story if I didn’t think through it that way. Thanks, Tara!

  176. Oh, I have just realised that my post came under “My Happy Hero” – Nicky Johnston 🙂

  177. Some great tips there! I’m looking forward to trying them all out this year.


  178. I’m not sure if I’ve replied before or not… I think I did but with 185 comments, I couldn’t find it.

    I know that endings are something I struggle with from time to time. Thanks for the tips 🙂

  179. I love the circular and twist endings best…they work with my sense of humor very well. Thanks for the ending tips!

  180. Thanks again, both of you! Absolutely loving the nudge to write a picture book a month—very doable, and done!

    And to the rest of you (I’ve been reading above…), good that it’s too wordy (that’s always my process)—you get to cut, cut, cut (let’s call it styling!), good that you’re not sure about the ending (you have all the time in the world), yes, begin with the end in mind (remember to include a “heart moment”), and hooray, you lead a full, full life, and you’re squeezing in writing time. Creating in the middle of chaos can give amazing results!

    Honored to participate…

  181. Tracy Warren (@socialTracyW)

    Thanks for the advice and encouragement Tara.

  182. I left a comment yesterday but it is not showing up here. Hmmm. Wonder why…

    Anyhoo! As always a wonderful post Tara! Wise, wise words indeed with a fresh perspective! I love me a twist or circular ending! I’m actually working on one right now.

  183. I’m excited to be participating in 12 x 12 in 2012! I love a circular ending; it makes things feel complete. Thanks for the advice Tara!

  184. This is JUST what I needed to write an ending to my January PB manuscript, Tara…thanks so much for your input. Endings are extremely challenging for me, so this post fit the bill!

  185. I wrote the beginning then the end and with those in place went back to fill in the details. Great post, Tara. I’m getting so much from this group!

  186. Hmmm….I always felt a little guilty not wrapping it all up! I’ve always loves the idea that it leave your readers something to think about…maybe enough to use as a jumping off point to their own daydreams! Thx for the wise words, Tara!

  187. Hmmm….I always felt a little guilty not wrapping it all up. I’ve always loved the idea that it leaves your readers something to think about…maybe even enough to use as a jumping-off point to their own daydreams. Thx for the wise words, Tara!

  188. I’m excited to be participating in the 12 x 12 challenge. thanks Julie & Tara for putting this together

  189. Hope it’s not to late to leave a comment — what a generous gift!

  190. And the blog post that ends with a smile will be remembered as well! Many thanks for a reminder at the beginning of the year to think about the ending.

  191. Finished my January manuscript (rough +1). On to February. 🙂

  192. Coming back to print this article as I revise my first draft… thanks!

  193. Could we perhaps also say that the writing of a good blog post is signified by its re-readability? If so, this has proven to be a very good blog post.

    I felt sure I’d commented the first time I read it, but can’t find my comment, so I’m belt-and-suspenders commenting here. And still feeling ennervated by the post itself. 🙂

  194. Yeah for the end of January. PB draft for January…check. Now to brainstorm for next month!! Good luck fellow writers!

  195. I have a first draft done for January. Wohoo! Congratulations to everyone else who completed the January picture book. 🙂

  196. Thanks for the great advice on endings. I finished my first draft for January — now to apply that advice!

  197. Thanks for the inspiration, Tara.

    I wasn’t happy with the ending to my January PB draft (though it seemed so great in my head!)…but the thing I love about this challenge is that I now get to let that go and move on. Yay!

  198. What’s left to say — I agree, endings make or break a ms. Thank you Julie and Tara for starting 2012 with a bang!

  199. Thanks, tara for kicking off the 12×12. It’s a great continuation of piboidmo!

  200. Thanks Tara! I love circular stories and I haven’t read click clack moo…we are going to picking it up at the library this week. Cheers, Jules

  201. Thanks for the tips. I’ve finished my Jan manuscript too but will be going back in a minute for another edit just to make sure 🙂

  202. So true about those pesky endings, Tara. I’d pay top dollar for a book on developing good plot twists and surprise endings. If anyone out there has a recommendation, please reply before I fall off this cliff… Aaaaaaahh!

  203. #1 in the books.

  204. Awesome tips!! love them!!

  205. Thanks for the advice about endings, Tara! I usually start with the end in mind and need to realize that things can change if they want to….and applied that to my picture book draft this month! A fun ending (well, the other ending would have been fun too….)

  206. Tara, you hit it just right in asking when life ever ends in a neat little package- that’s my gripe with certain people who created a little too much “happily ever after” in my childhood. Entertaining, but not lesson-driven. Thanks for this post- a little reverse thinking leaves a lot of room for moving forward. Love it!

  207. Great tips! And I am happy to have finished my January draft!

  208. Thank you for your tips. Gonna have another look to see how I can apply them on my first draft.

  209. I read this but I never took the time to respond. Great thoughts Tara.

  210. I’m struggling with finding a “non-wimpy” surprise ending for one of my picture book manuscripts, so I re-read the post this morning. Thanks, Tara, most helpful!

  211. So excited for 2012 to be the BEST year with 12 manuscripts and at least one published!!! 🙂 Thank you Julie and Tara for inspiring us!!

  212. Can’t believe I actually made it. 12 x 12 – bring it on! Thanks for motivating us..

  213. First draft done for January, and thanks to Tara, I have 29 more ideas to work on.February draft here I come.

  214. I love the idea of using a permutation of your first line as your last line – I think that’ll be my goal for Feb! I have my January manuscript done, within a few hours of the end of the month. 🙂

  215. My January ms is complete. I even made a rough dummy.
    Hello February. I’m ready!

  216. Thanks. Endings are everything.

  217. Good tips, I will try to incorporate them

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