Good morning! Welcome to DAY TWO of our marathon 7-picture books-in-7-days annual National Picture Book Writing Week! Thank you for all your comments on my blogs so far. I’ve been blown away by everyone’s hard work and enthusiasm for this event. Congrats to everyone for finishing their first book!
I’m live blogging every morning with thoughts on my own writing journey plus writing advice from myself as well as my friends. I’m also posting new updates and breaking news about our prize drawing contest at the end of the week which will feature a lot of fun surprises! So please keep checking out my blog – http://paulayoo.com/napi – every morning. I’ll try to get the blogs posted before 12 PM (PST) every day.
I’m also live tweeting here: http://twitter.com/paulayoo
Today’s special guest is picture book author LISA WHEELER (http://lisawheelerbooks.com). Please keep reading after the jump for her writing advice plus more news and updates!
Let’s start off DAY TWO with some fantastic advice from picture book author & poet LISA WHEELER.
To date, Lisa Wheeler has thirty titles on library shelves, with more to follow over the next few years. She’s written picture books in prose and rhyme, an easy reader series, three books of poems, and creative nonfiction for the very young. Awards include the 2004 Mitten Award for Old Cricket, given by the Michigan Library Association, the 2005/06 Great Lakes, Great Books Award and 2005 Missouri Building Blocks Award for Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum,the 2006 Bluebonnet Award for Seadogs , the 2006/07 South Carolina Picture Book Award for Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum and most recently, the 2008 The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award forJazz Baby given by the American Library Association. Her newest titles include Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Simon & Schuster) and Dino-Basketball, illustrated by Barry Gott (CarolRhoda). Lisa shares her Michigan home with one husband, one dog, and an assortment of anthropomorphic characters. Check out her website at www.lisawheelerbooks.com
When it comes to brainstorming and writing a picture book, you always need a STORY. Plot can sometimes be the trickiest thing to write because you have to make sure your plot’s structure is rock solid. Without a solid foundation of a plot, your entire story can fall apart.
Lisa also runs a FANTASTIC “Picture Book Writing Boot Camp” all over the country. The event is exactly what it sounds like – an intensive one-day session of lectures and workshops with Lisa on how to write and craft a picture book draft. For more info on her Boot Camp, check out this link: http://lisawheelerbooks.com/LW/boot_camp.html
When it comes to PLOT, Lisa gives the following advice:
“One of the things I tell the people who take my Picture Book Boot Camp is that plot in a picture book has to be fairly simple. For instance,
1. character wants something
2. character tries to get it 3 times
5. fails (rule-of-threes)
7. the end.
“In a novel, the plot can be layered and have all these twists and turns and multiple characters, but in a picture book, we try to capture a moment in time—one plot point. Whether it is an hour, a day, a week, or a month—it is all about that same singular plot point. So, even though you have a great story like Carolyn Crimi’s The Louds Move In, which takes place over months of time, the entire plot point revolves around that fact that the family is too loud for their neighbors. Keep it simple. Keep it tight.”
So as you work on Book Number Two for today, keep this advice in mind! Let me know if this Rule of Three’s from Lisa Wheeler helped you come up with a SOLID storyline for your latest picture book draft!
But… what if you have writers’ block or are stuck on an idea? Lisa has some MORE advice on her website in this fantastic article she wrote on how to get into the mindset of a picture book author. The article is entitled, “FIVE TIPS TO HELP YOU RELATE TO YOUR YOUNG AUDIENCE.”
Her main advice? BE IMMATURE. When Lisa was asked how she knew that she could write for children, Lisa joked, “I’m immature and have a limited vocabulary.” Later, she realized her joke actually had some truth to it. “Am I suggesting that those of us who write for children are less professional, less intelligent, than other writers?” she says. “No way Jose! We just need to be more in tune with a child’s world.”
To find out what Lisa’s five tips are, please visit her link here: http://www.lisawheelerbooks.com/LW/beimmature.html
I list this article as well because I hope it gives you a NEW way to think about how to approach writing Book Number Two today!
Finally, I know that many of you have full-time jobs and/or you also are a parent! I know life can be very busy. But the point of this NAPIBOWRIWEE event is to train everyone to learn how to write EVERY SINGLE DAY NO MATTER WHAT. I write every day. I HAVE to write every day. It wasn’t easy at first, but I learned how to do it. It’s like exercise – at some point during the day, you have to exercise, whether it’s a real workout at the gym or just taking a brisk walk after dinner. Even chasing your toddler around the house can be considered exercise. Every day, we MOVE. So why not treat writing like exercise? You gotta keep writing to keep those writing “muscles” from going slack.
So… to let you know that I am human and overwhelmed, yesterday, I did not have the perfect writing day. LOL! When I’m not hosting NAPIBOWRIWEE at my website, my job is a bit diverse. In addition to being a picture book author and YA novelist, I am also a TV writer and producer. But right now I am not working on a TV show because my last series, SyFy’s EUREKA, wrapped in August 2011. (Our fifth and final season is currently airing on SyFy every Monday at 9 PM EST/8C.)
So I’m currently between TV jobs. Every May, the networks announce which returning and new drama and sitcom series will air in the fall. There’s a frenzy of job interviews where thousands of TV writer/producers try to get jobs on these shows. It’s called STAFFING SEASON and boy is it a roller coaster ride. I’ve been lucky so far, thankfully. BUT because the “P” in “Paula” also stands for “Paranoid,” I am very conservative and work between all my book sales and TV jobs. I am also a substitute teacher in the public school system in Los Angeles, and I teach everything from Kindergarten to the 12th grade. Talk about great RESEARCH for my future books! LOL!
So yesterday, I had a last minute subbing gig for 7th grade social studies. Gone was my perfectly planned day of carefully working on Book Number One for NAPIBOWRIWEE! Boo! I was EXHAUSTED when I got home, plus I had to prepare for the blogs I plan to post every day for this week. AND I had to read more TV scripts to prepare for hopeful job interviews during staffing season.
By the time I was ready to write, it was 10 PM! Oh noes! And I was bleary eyed from lack of sleep. So I snuggled in bed with my three cats Oreo, Beethoven and Charlotte. (Yup, get ready for lots of Crazy Cat Lady moments from moi! LOL! My cat Oreo has his own Twitter feed @oreothecatyoo!) I decided to handwrite this Book Number One. I had an idea from a few months ago that was gestating in my subconscious, so I wrote a very simple draft. I thought of Lisa’s advice on The Rule of Threes and came up with three conflicts and problems that my character had to solve. I finished this literally minutes before midnight. So now I have a super rough first draft that I can revise later in the year. Yippee! One down, six to go.
Today I hope to have more time to write. I’m about to disappear into my writing bat cave. My inspiration for today? My cats, of course. I’m using this photo to inspire my Book Number Two. I’m posting this cute picture below to inspire you as well.
Finally – as always – please comment on this blog with your progress today. I haven’t had time to individually address your comments, but I will try my best to catch up.
Everyone who posts a comment or emails me (paula at paulayoo dot com) will be included in the PRIZE DRAWING CONTEST to be held at the end of the week. The winners will be announced in a special blog on Monday May 8th. The prizes will include not only souvenirs from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE (link here: http://www.cafepress.com/npbww2012) and autographed copies of MY picture books (Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story & Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story from Lee & Low Books), but they will also include specially autographed books from LISA WHEELER and more special guest authors to be included this week! So keep visiting my blog for more prize announcements as well!
Okay, I’m off to the writing batcave for the day. Stay tuned for Day Three’s blog posted tomorrow Thursday May 3rd. I will be live tweeting today @paulayoo ! Good luck everyone!
And as always… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!