The picture books are the hardest. By far.
I’m not referring to how hard it is to get a picture book accepted by a traditional publisher. Everyone thinks they can write these short and simple texts, and so the slush piles are brimming with manuscripts. This is not what I am talking about. I’m taking about writing *brilliant* picture books. Because the pretty good ones are still a dime-a-dozen.
Longer stories can limp in places, so long as they keep the reader’s interest and something about them stands out from the crowd.
You’ve heard the saying “every word must shine.” When reading novels critically, I can think of a rephrase here and there, and this is for lauded published novels. But a superb picture book must have every word perfectly situated.
Such immaculate phrasing is evident when you try to paraphrase, and the slightest change makes the whole sentence fall flat.
In longer works you may have this immutable perfection in the first sentence or paragraph. Now think of a complete manuscript, short though it be, with only strong, lyrical, content-filled dancing sentences.
No rule book can help with that. No writing course can show the way. Great picture book texts are poetry to the visual art that will sing with them when the book is put together.
May 25th, 2015 By Mirka Breen