February 15, 2018

12 Ways to Avoid Rejection

Why was your children’s story (the one you loved and slaved over) rejected by a magazine editor? Maybe the editor wrote:  it's not right for us or I'll have to pass. These replies make matters worse because you have no clue as to what (if anything) was wrong with your work and you don't have any idea how to revise it. 

But here are some tips to help you avoid rejection:
  • Create a main character that the audience cares about and can connect with.
  • Create a true conflict that pulls at the heart of the main character.
  • Place the conflict early on in the story.
  • Establish a good flow (no stumbling over words when read out loud).
  • Have the main character solve the problem.
  • Close with a satisfying ending that is not predictable.

And a few more tips:
  • Give your story a unique plot.
  • Make sure your story is not preachy.
  • Shy away from scary when writing for younger kids.
  • Keep the vocabulary at the grade level of the intended audience. 
  • Check for spelling and grammar.   
  • Aim to stay within the expected word count. 

Judging a story is subjective and there can be many reasons why an editor rejects fiction.  Some things are out of your control.  Maybe the editor has published or has a similar piece on hand.  Maybe she has a particular vision for what she likes to publish and thinks your story wasn’t a good fit for the magazine’s audience.  Or maybe, she was just feeling grouchy and rejected everything that came her way that day.  Who knows? 

So read over the tips again.  Did you find the reason for your rejection?  If so, revise your work.  But, if your story passes the check list, then simply submit it again to another publication.  What are you waiting for?  You love your story. Find out if a different editor will love it, too.   




February 1, 2018

Going from Magazine Story to Picture Book

When I work with writers, some tell me that they want to take their published magazine story and submit it to a book publisher.  To accomplish that, they think all they need to do is to cut words.  In truth, a magazine story needs to be re-thought and revised if the writer envisions it as a book.

Both picture books and magazine stories center around a theme and have takeaway value.  They have engaging plots, strong characterization, a specific setting, and lively language.  


However, when it comes to magazine stories, there can be more character and setting description and more conversational dialogue.  In addition, magazine stories can be understood without illustrations and usually cover one scene.


For picture books, the focus is on one character, his want, and the conflict that results.  Writers must consider pace and page turns.  Less description is needed because the details are expressed through illustration.  Everything is about word choice—word play, rhythm, things like alliteration, and metaphor because picture books are generally 500 words.  Dialogue is shorter and snappier.  


A short story is usually read just once.   A picture book resonates with kids, parents, and teachers and is meant to be read again and again.  


I'm all for those who want to pursue writing a book based on a magazine story.  
Writers can use the same protagonist, setting and conflict, but the story has to be told more succinctly as a picture book.  It takes time, patience, and dedication to make that transition.  It takes reading books on the craft of writing and studying published picture books to understand what is required of the genre.  Because going from story to book takes a lot more than just cutting words.