What A Standout Story Needs?
I hope the content thus far has also underlined that writing a picture book is more than just good writing. To be successful, you also need to be a good storyteller. It’s not just the right words, it’s the order and pacing and timing of them.
Let’s recap a few of the techniques that will help your text to standout:
An interesting angle: Finding a new spin or take on a new or existing idea
A pitch: Writing one or two lines to summarise your story before you begin can be a good way of clarifying if your story has BIG enough potential. It will also serve to pique the interest of an agent /editor
Characters: Are they real, relatable, interesting and different?
Layers: A great picture book works on many layers. Include an internal and external conflict to add depth, tension and appeal for a wide range of ages.
Voice: How does your picture book sound when read aloud? Is the voice lyrical, poetic, funny, something else?
Let’s not also forget the impact of a great title. A title is a promise. Books can sell on titles alone. So, when naming your story, the general advice it to keep them short, snappy and succinct whilst highlighting the main theme and making sure it matches the tone of your text.
Top tips for titles:
– Can you use word play, rhyme or alliteration to grab your reader and add intrigue?
– Can you use your main character’s name? Is there a catchy refrain or phrase from your story?
– Consider if it is child centred/ child friendly?
– Shorter titles leave more room on the cover for bigger font. Long titles can be hard to place.
– Don’t forget to research to see if your title has been used before.
For more ‘Dos and Don’ts’ about naming your stories, please see my Picture Book Den post: Five Myths about Picture Book Titles – unpicked! https://picturebookden.blogspot.com/2020/01/five-myths-about-picture-book-titles.html