While I have never met Christie Wild, today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author, in person, I am blessed indeed to “know” her very well. She is a huge part of my writing life and writing career and has been ever since she admitted me into the world’s greatest online critique group (not that I’m biased or anything) three years or so ago. We’ve learned from each other and with each other, and I can’t imagine putting anything out into the world without her seeing it first. She’s one of those rare individuals who provides the perfect blend of encouragement and constructive criticism. I can also say with authority that she is a very talented writer. We in our critique group are all so proud of her publishing contract, but not a one of us is surprised. So I’m thrilled you’ll be able to learn from her too in this post. Please welcome Christie!
Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books
Since the 12×12 challenge is all about picture books, I thought I’d blog about craft. Because as fun as reading and writing picture books is, our manuscripts will never get published if they don’t prove we have a strong command of craft. There are a lot of how-to books out there that teach craft or how to write a picture book, but none can teach as well as the very picture books we love to read. But first, I’d like to share with you why I joined 12×12.
Last year, I joined 12×12 in 2012 to push me to write my next manuscript. And it was just the push I needed. I wrote two NEW ones in 2012, but revised six and submitted 16. So even though I didn’t get 12 new stories written in 2012, I still consider it a success.
At the time of this writing (the beginning of March), I haven’t written a single new manuscript this year, but I have revised one significantly and have submitted six different manuscripts to 16 different places. And guess what? ONE of them has been accepted for publication! I joined 12×12 in 2013 because I love our community support group, especially on Facebook, and because I really want the opportunity to submit to agents, as well as be a part of the forums. The road is so much easier to travel WITH other writers. My goal for this year is to double last year’s efforts and write four new stories.
With all the other things we have to think about as writers (get the monthly quota in, blogging, marketing, publishing, critiquing, and more), craft is sometimes skimmed, skipped, or jumped over; raced, flown, or swam past; or simply underestimated or forgotten. Craft is how we write. It’s the techniques we use to tell a great story. You may have a great story in your head, but if you fail to convey it to the reader in a way that will touch him, you have failed to tell a great story. Or you have failed the craft. C. S. Lewis sums it up nicely, “Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.” I hope I can at least live up to that for the duration of this blog post.
The craft elements I’d like to share with you today are what I like to call the top 10 story elements for picture books.
- WORD PLAY
- BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS
The first five elements are necessary for ALL fiction, not just picture books. The last five are more specific to picture books, but MG and YA definitely need great beginnings and endings too. The first three (character, conflict, and plot) are often intertwined and sometimes seem inseparable, especially conflict and plot. This is where the rising action and falling action are found. You can’t have a story without character, conflict, and plot. They are the basic building blocks of story. Dialogue draws you in. And theme makes it stick after you’re done.
The last five story elements turn a good story into a great story. They can make your writing shine. Word play isn’t just for fun books either; it can be for serious books too. The beauty of language usually comes long after the first several drafts. However, it’s certainly nice when the first draft includes a little bit of that beautiful language. The more you write, the more you practice your craft, the more your first drafts will have more and more of these top 10 elements for picture books. Keep on keepin’ on…
Christie Wright Wild has been writing ever since second grade. She has adored picture books long before she ever had children of her own, but failed to see her true calling until after she became a teacher. She is a member of SCBWI and is looking forward to attending her 3rd conference this fall. Her first picture book will be published in 2015. Her blog, WRITE WILD, has 25 mini writing lessons that deal with these top 10 story elements for picture books. On the 14th of every month, a new one will be added. Hop on over and explore!Categories: 12 x 12, Authors, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, SCBWI, Social Media, Writing