Friday, October 29, 2010


I thought I'd try to answer a few of the questions that people had asked below. So here is one:

"Something my crit group and I were talking about last night was the fine line between a picturebook with spare text vs one that gets labeled as "slight". I love books like "Shark vs. Train" published by Little Brown or "Show Dog" by Megan McCarthy. What is y'all's take on the fine line of spare vs. slight when it comes to picturebooks? How do you indicate action that occurs in wordless panels in a manuscript? Should you indicate it or just show it in the dummy? 

First, thanks for liking Show Dog! The importance of a book like that is pacing. A lot happens in that book even though there aren't a lot of words. Ed trains for a dog show, enters the show, ruins the show (there's your story arch), but behind the scenes you can watch Princess and how unhappy she is and that's sort of the secondary plot. At the end she gets to go home with Ed and his family and Mr. Pitt continues to be unhappy. Will he learn his lesson that there's more to happiness than being perfect on the outside? I actually used the Ramsey girl as my model (as sick and twisted as that may be). What if she could have been adopted by another family instead of having to put on a happy smile all the time?

So there's a lot going on in that story even though there aren't many words. A slight story is one where there aren't many words and there isn't much story/stuff going on to boot. It's the kind of story that makes you feel empty... wanting more... or kind of that huh? feeling. And believe me, there are plenty of them out there. And just imagine how many unpublished stories there are! There's a fine art to making text work well and have a good chunky story but yet not contain many words. I still do this with my nonfiction works. I'm often very frustrated by the amount of nonfiction books that win awards. Their lengths are soooo long that the books clearly are for adults and not kids. I'm writing for kids and will continue to do so.

As far as indicating action in a wordless dummy: yes, draw it out in the dummy if you're an artist or write in parentheses what action will take place if you are the writer.

Here's another question:

"One thing that I am very interested in is how to fund research, and I don't mean just for nonfiction writers. Almost every work requires research. Sometimes, it can all be done in a library or online, but what about when it can't?

I've read blogs about authors who discuss their research process - visiting places, people, etc. Who pays for this? Does the writer pay for it him/herself and then hope to get it back out of book sales, or do publishers help front some of it? This aspect of publishing has always stumped me and because I have some ideas that would require more research than others, I'm curious.

Authors are always responsible for paying for research. This goes for trips, gas, books purchased, etc. Sad but true. You can write it off at the end of the year. Hey, nonfiction has its costs!

1 comment:

Julie Hedlund said...

That is a serious bummer about the research costs, but also the answer I expected...