Idea Bouncing and Plotting out Structure with a Pitch!
Saturday was the last day of PiBoIdMo. I feel sad, but I shouldn’t really. I gained so much from this month:
1. 40+ ideas for picture books (and at least 10 good ones.)
2. New ways of brainstorming.
3. New friendships and facebook friends that love writing and picture books as much as I do.
4. The knowledge that forcing yourself to sit down and write and brainstorm actually leads to completed writing and brainstorming. (Imagine that!)
5. And that actually doing it, doesn’t just lead to one idea…but the ideas seem to multiply and I start seeing ideas for picture books everywhere.
6. This awesome butt kicking post by author Kelly Light! Anytime I start feeling like I need a picture book pity party, I’m going to read this post and realize I don’t! http://taralazar.com/2013/11/23/piboidmo-day-23-kelly-light/
So where do we go from here?
Well, I’m going to be writing, writing, writing as much as I can.
Through plotting and idea bouncing. Some people may object to both of these things and have a totally different style of writing. But not me. I whole heartedly believe in both of them.
I have to be an outliner. Because I live my life so unstructured as it is, that if I’m lacking structure in my writing, I tend to wander in circles.
And the best way to plot is if you have someone to bounce ideas off of. Some people may say this is cheating. If someone helps you with the idea, then isn’t it sort of theirs too?
Well think of it this way.
You’ve written a manuscript. And you are sending it to your critique partner. And your critique partner sees lots of things that may need work. Perhaps the structure of your story isn’t there. Perhaps your character is lacking a want. Perhaps the way you wrote it is sending the wrong message.
So she gives you advice on how to fix it.
You do and Boom! It’s better.
Well, what’s the difference between having your critique partner give you suggestions on how to fix a manuscript that is already written, or having her give you suggestions on how to fix the ideas and structure of your manuscript before it is written?
Well, the main difference is time spent on writing. Why not get feedback, right from the start?
I have to say, luckily I found a great critique partner who is willing to do this. And I’m so happy I did. Because I was able to plot out 10 of my ideas so far, with her generous help.
Plotting your picture book with a logline or pitch first
The other thing that is helpful is writing a logline or pitch for your picture book before you even write it.
Loglines are structured. They typically follow a certain format. So if you can make your idea fit into the format, then basically you are setting yourself up for structured success for your picture book.
Here are the basic elements of a character based/ plot driven picture book:
Climax: (Something Changes or Big Happens)
Here is a generic pitch:
Character wants to do something but can’t because there are obstacles. But when something drastic changes or happens, the character is able to do something and solves the problem.
_________________________ wants to _______________________ but can’t because _____________________ .But when _____________________, he/she is able to_________________ and __________ .
Wodney Wat is a rodent with a lisp.
He just wants to blend in and not be picked on anymore but kids always make fun of him at school. But when Camilla Capybara comes to school and threatens all the rodents, he is able to outsmart Camilla in a game of Simon Says, sends her packing, and is never picked on again.
Now obviously there are other types of picture books, for example concept books. But this structure is for a character based, plot driven story.
So if you were like me and only came up with the name of character or a catchy title…try to take those ideas and plug them into a structure.
Then in December you will have several plots to work with and writing that manuscript will seem much easier to tackle.
So here is my challenge to you. Take 5 ideas. And use the document below to see if you can generically force them into 5 different pitches. These pitches don’t have to sound great right now, (worry about fixing them up for when you are submission ready.) For now, just get the basics in. The point is to help you see a full manuscript summarized in two sentences. Once you do that, the writing becomes easier. (Or so I find.)
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous debut author/illustrator Maggie Brown.
And 5th Mondays will feature a surprise reprise from over nine years of archives.