Let’s Bake a Picture Book Cake! Monday Day 30
Wow…There are nearly 40 entries in the Golden Quill Poetry Contest! I’m thrilled that so many of you were brave enough to write something that may be out of your comfort zone and enter the contest…Thank You!
I am in the process of going through them making sure that each poem has all the criteria required. There are a few people that forgot to add in 3/5 senses into the poem, so this will disqualify it.
Once I have eliminated poems without the requirements, I will remove all names from the poems and send them to our judges. They will have a scoring system to critique each poem as fairly as possible. Once they are done, they will send me the tallied scores for each poem. In case of a tie, I will score the poems myself. In case of another tie, the winner will be the person that submitted their poem first, in order, for the contest.Due to the number of poems submitted, we will not be able to answer questions concerning poems that don’t win.
Our wonderful judges are Jill Esbaum, Renee LaTulippe and Tiffany Strelitz Haber!
I have three wonderful prizes !
Scholarship for From Storyteller to Exquisite Writer: The Pleasures and Craft of Poetic Techniques!
Donated by Mira Reisberg and Sudipta Bardhan Quallan
Scholarship for The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching up Prose with Poetry
Donated by Renee La Tulippe
Scholarship for a spot in Picture Book Magic Course
Donated by Susanna Leonard Hill
Good Luck to Everyone!
Today’s guest blogger is someone I haven’t met but boy would I like to! She has been so incredibly gracious and friendly throughout this entire process. I have met such wonderfully talented authors while hosting and Jill has helped make my job so much easier. She has offered to help judge our poetry contest this week. I really appreciate that as we have so many wonderful entries. Thank you Jill for being here to share some of your insight into rhyming picture book writing with us!
So, without further ado, I’m honored to present today’s
Golden Quill Guest Blogger
First of all, a huge THANKS to Angie for asking me to participate in RhyPiMoBo. I’m excited to hang here for a whole month with so many others who share my rhyming addiction. Genius idea, Angie!
Today, I’d like to touch on the importance of choosing the most effective rhythm for a story. This was brought home to me recently when I critiqued a rhyming manuscript in which the writer had used a bouncy, lilting meter to tell a very sad story.
The advice I give most often, as in this case, is to try writing the story in prose. While writing in rhyme is highly enjoyable (when you’re not banging your head on your desk), not every story is best presented that way.
But if you have a lyrical – or goofy– story that begs for rhyme, be aware that the rhythm you choose can make or break it. The right rhythm helps create a mood, establish a certain atmosphere. Keep in mind, too, that within that chosen rhythm, your word and style choices can slow the pace or speed it up.
To illustrate, here’s the opening of my first published pb, Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-Comin’! The story is set in the 1860s and shows what happens when a steamboat visits a small, downriver town. The relaxed pace reflects the hot, lazy day and is meant to mimic wavelets lapping at a shoreline. Note that every line includes long vowel sounds that encourage the reader to slow down.
mighty, ever-rolling tide.
At mid-story, the established rhythm remains, but the pace picks up to reflect the chaotic unloading scenes:
and brass spittoons.
See how plenty of short vowel sounds and punchy, unmodified nouns keep the reader moving along quickly?
Through most of my newest book, I Hatched! (Dial, 2014, illustrated by Jen Corace), a rapid-fire pace reflects the energy and enthusiasm of a newly-hatched killdeer as he zips around his neighborhood.
Bet my little legs are blurry!
My next pb, I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! (Dial, May 2014, illustrated by Gus Gordon), unwinds at a leisurely gait that feels, to me, like a cow swaying along. The meter doesn’t change through the story, but word and style choices make the pace pick up when something frightens Nadine (the cow MC) and she tears off to gallop through a dark, unfamiliar forest in a blind panic.
She thundered through thickets,
and ragweed that triggered spectacular sneezes.
She worried, The bear’s gonna get me! (As if.)
She kept galloping, galloping, right off a . . .
So take a look at your work in progress. Does the story’s rhythm pattern (beat, meter, cadence, or however you like to think about it) help create the tone, the mood, you’d intended? Do your word and style choices speed up or slow down the pace when appropriate?
If you craft a story, rather than just pick an easy meter and rhyme your end lines, agents and editors will notice. And so will your future readers.
Jill Esbaum is the author of many picture books. Her newest rhyming story is I Hatched! (Dial). Her Tom’s Tweet (Knopf) and Stanza (Harcourt) are/were nominated for state awards, and Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-Comin’! (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), was an IRA Notable Children’s Book. Her next rhymer (due out next month) is I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! (Dial).
Info on latest of upcoming books:
Jill’s latest rhyming picture book, I HATCHED!, was named a NYTimes Editor’s Choice (2.23.14). In April, National Geographic will release her ANGRY BIRDS PLAYGROUND: RAIN FOREST, and in June, her two titles in their new Explore My World series, PENGUINS and SNOW LEOPARDS. Her next rhyming picture book, due from Dial May 15th, is I AM COW, HEAR ME MOO!
Thank you Jill Esbaum!
RhyPiBoMo Daily Lesson: Monday, April 28th
By Angie Karcher © 2014
Hook, Characters & Plot
First, we are going to examine the beginning of a story called Granpappy’s Grizzly. This is a work in progress but I had a good critique from an editor who liked the hook, the character and plot set up in these first paragraphs so I thought I’d share this as an example.
I know it makes it hard to read but please “bear” with me as all the colors will be explained when you are done reading. = )
The sun-dried leaves on the old mountain trail crackled as I heard that grizzly bear comin’. I held my breath, stayin’ as still as a pine board on a barn so I could hear her footsteps. I waited out there ‘til the clouds turned violet and my fingers ached.
Most boys my age would be a fearin’ a grizzly but not me. Granpappy’s grizzly doesn’t scare me one bit! She is solitary though, doesn’t come around for me to see her…well, ever actually. But I’m bound and determined to see her this winter!
Do You Want to Read More?
I sat on my lookout-log countin’ snowflakes that looked like cottonweed justa’ spittin’ outta’ the sky, when suddenly, I caught a scent of persimmon tobacco swirling up the mountain. It was from Granpappy’s pipe. If he was nearby, so was his grizzly.
I could hear the crunch, crunch, crunch of them comin’ one step at a time…
The fur tree’s branches “SHOOK WITH DELIGHT” as Granpappy peeked through them.
Do You Want to Read More?
“Howdy there, Lil’ Bo,” he said, in his loud, Appalachian twang. “There’s gonna be a heapa’ snow come down at nightfall.”
His voice always reminded me of a saw cuttin’ through a log.
“Hey there, sir,” I said anxiously. “Where’s your grizzly?
“Aw, she’s laggin’ behind but she’ll be around before the moon glows.
Do You Want to Read More?
Granpappy walked with an old cane he whittled from the first tree he ever axed. It was old and worn and strong, just like him.
“Come on in out of that mean, winter blow,” yelled my mama through the screen door, cracked open just enough for her voice to squeeze through. Granpappy left tracks as he made his way to the house. I stood, peekin’ through the fur tree branches, hopin’ to catch a sight of that grizzly tonight.
Do You Want to Read More?
October always brought Granpappy and snow up the mountain for the winter. The snow stayed until March and Granpappy stayed until April. Pa said Granpappy should have come up the mountain last week, before the snow, but he was set in his ways. That grizzly was set in her ways too ‘cause she never came ‘round where I could see her…not yet.
The breakdown of each necessary element of the hook, characters and plot helps to show you where these are in my manuscript.
I hope your answer to the questions were yes, but I mainly put those there to help you think about what the reader is feeling. I have broken down each important part with different colors for you to see how it is included above.
Study this so you can apply it to your manuscript. While this manuscript isn’t rhyming, notice all the poetic techniques used in it. I purposely chose this text for that reason as I hope that you will apply what we have learned to all of your writing…not just the rhyming manuscripts.
THE FIRST SENTENCE GRAB:
The first sentence must grab the reader by the heart and hold on tight!
“The sun-dried leaves on the old mountain trail crackled as I heard that grizzly bear comin’.”
There’s a darn bear coming…of course you want to read more!
Who is the main character?
A young boy; Li’l Bo; the narrator
Who are the other characters?
Granpappy; The Grizzly; Mama; Pa
What is the setting?
A boy waiting for his Granpappy and the grizzly out in the cold weather
When is this scene occurring?
October; In the winter; the evening; before night time
Where does the scene take place?
Outside; a mountain; cold weather; woods
Why should I continue reading?
The reader is rooting for the main character to see the grizzly and/or not be the grizzly’s dinner!
Is there tension or conflict in the beginning?
Yes, initially he is standing still to hear the footsteps but the reader doesn’t know that and thinks a grizzly may be approaching; a potentially dangerous situation. He states that he isn’t afraid of the grizzly but there is certainly anxiousness and anticipation of seeing her arrive.
I color coded everything so you can see where each piece of the puzzle is.
Go back to your manuscript and color code the different parts needed.
The most important part of any picture book is the hook! You must grab your reader right from the beginning. Once you have the reader invested in the story, you can work on keeping him interested. We will talk about that more tomorrow.
The hook must create immediate tension, ask a question or find a way to allure your reader into the story. The hook sets up the entire scene, makes way for the plot and opens the door for the characters to shine, flawed and all.
When creating characters for a story, I tend to think of someone I know and assimilate their traits, mannerisms and personality quirks. I might use a phrase that that person might say or refer to them in a certain way that gives them an edge or uniqueness to their persona. Li’l Bo, Mama and Pa are molded after an Aunt, Uncle and cousin of mine and Granpappy is my grandfather. They all grew up and lived in western Kentucky and had a very southern twang to their dialect. That voice comes easily to me because of growing up around them, although I don’t have that southern accent at all. I imagine how they might say something or what they would think about a certain situation.
It is important to keep your characters interesting but not perfect. Give them flaws. We all have them and that makes a character more believable, more relatable and more fun.
The plot of a story must be well thought out. Must have a beginning, middle and end. The plot uses cause and effect to get the reader from point A to point B with some excitement and surprises along the way. Think of your manuscript as if it were a play that is to be performed by actors. You must give your audience a reason to stay in their seats, watching the story unfold. You wouldn’t stay at a play that was boring and without incident. You would either leave or fall asleep. For a reader, it’s easier than that…they quit reading and close the book. BOOM…DONE…MOVED ON…without looking back. Give the reader a reason to stay! We will delve into this much deeper tomorrow but ultimately, you must write the story that you want to read! I love this quote but I don’t know who said it… “For the reader to cry, the writer must cry.” That was very moving for me when I read it the first time…and so true!
Let’s Bake a Picture Book Cake
Picture Book Baking Recipe:
1 scoop of a Beginning with an irresistible hook
1 teaspoon of Scene set up
2-3 tasty Characters introduced
1 heaping teaspoon of a Main Character to solve the problem
3 cups of Problems/Incidents of tension
Then stir it up! But we are not done yet…
1 dash of the Middle of the story transition/character has choices to make
1 tablespoon of Character struggle/emotional and physical
1 level cup of a turning point
1 heroic Main Character to solve the problem
A tablespoon of Resolution
1 dash of Happily Ever After ending
Mix it all together carefully and don’t leave any lumps!
Bake for a loooooong time in your revision/critique group oven.
Take it out of the oven to cool for at least a week.
Let it sit for a while before you frost it. Okay, A week’s a long time for a cake but not a picture book! LOL
Now it’s time to frost your picture book cake.
It should be covered and layered and oozing with joy, sorrow, excitement, eagerness, and sprinkled with candy coated lyrical words, descriptive word choices, delicious rhythm and multi-syllabic rhyming words for good measure.
Now, it’s time to test it out…offer a piece to a group of children in your target age and see it they like it. The true test…do they ask for more?
Writing Prompt: write out the recipe for your manuscript. See if it has all the ingredients that are needed for a delicious picture book cake of your own.
Okay, now do everything else on the pledge for today and don’t forget to comment on today’s blog post!
RhyPiBoMo PledgeRhyPiBoMo Pledge Please comment ONLY ONE TIME below for a chance to win today’s prize! Prizes will be drawn by Random.com next Sunday for the previous week. To be eligible for a prize you must be a registered participant and comment after each days lessons.
69 thoughts on “Let’s Bake a Picture Book Cake! Monday”
Color coding – highlighting or underlining with colored pencils is a great idea to self-check a manuscript.
Nice reminder from Jill about the importance of finding a rhythm that matches the story, especially when rhyming. I also appreciate your PB recipe, Angie, reminding us of the importance of a good hook, character development and plot.
Jill, Love all your stories – you really know how to use words to create the appropriate rhythm in each of them. Thanks for a great lesson! Angie, can’t wait to use your PB recipe on my manuscripts!
Thanks Jill and Angie! I will look for good hooks and add timing to my rhyming 🙂
I love the bear story! Any advice for plotless picture books? i.e. nonfiction
Jill, thanks for the reminder and examples of using rhythm to fit the mood and purpose of the story. Angie, best wishes with a big acceptance for Grandpappy’s Grizzly, and thanks for sharing and showing!
Thank you for pointing how long and short vowel sounds encourage readers to slow down or speed up. And I like the PB recipe!
Thank you Jill and Angie! I found the colour-coding very useful. I’d never thought of doing that for PBs before. Good idea!
In my full time job as a REading Teacher, I’m surrounded by long and short vowels. I love how Jill points out how they can have an effect on the way a rhythm reads. Short vowels can speed something up, and long vowels can slow something down. INteresting!
Thanks, Angie, for the recipe. I’m going to bake and while my delight is cooling, I’ll color. Thanks, Jill for reminding us of the importance of matching rhythm and mood.
Great stuff – especially appreciate Jill’s help with making the rhythm fit the mood – and that YUMMY sandwich. 🙂 Can’t believe we’re nearly done!!
I’m excited to look for the Steamboat book Jill mentioned. We’re studying them in our homeschool next week, and that will be a perfect addition to our unit!
Working on my recipe. No eye of toad, tail or newt, today. Maybe a tale of newt might work, though. Let’s just hope this poem is not half-baked.
Jill and Angie…thank you so very much…do you want to read more? I will ask that each time I read one of my manuscripts aloud. 🙂 What an awesome question to ask ourselves!
Love it, love it, love it! Thanks so much. This is such helpful information!
Thanks Jill for the helpful advice, especially what to look for in our word choices… long/short vowels, etc. Angie, thanks for the “sweet” writing ingredients needed for a PB.
Enjoyed the post, and I’m going to write a recipe for a Rhyming Picture Book. Also thanks for introducing more authors and tips.
This post is a winning recipe for PB writing. Thanks so much~
Love it! And, I bet the picture book cake will be delicious and have ’em coming back for more.
I did want to keep reading. I’m confident the bear does not eat Bo but I am not so confident that Granpappy even has a grizzly…
I want to read more!
Yes, yes, I want to read more!!!! :0)
Thanks so much! LOVED the first line grab!!
Thank you Jill – your examples were perfect.
Angie- what a clever recipe! I LOVE it.
Jill’s post on rhythm is terrific. Great examples! Thanks, Jill. Your post on story is also great. Thanks for that. Happy writing, everyone!
Love the picture book cake recipe!
A very interesting exercise. I’ll try it right now!
Love the color-coding. A very concrete way to check out a manuscript.
Love Jill’s books! Glad to see her here. And now, will I ever get to find out if Li’l Bo sees the grizzly?
Great recipe! Thanks for the information.
Great idea with the color coding.
I love the baking analogy Angie! So clever!
I think my recipe is a good one!
Angie: From yet another super lesson, I will focus on the importance of hook, characters and plot. Jill: Your thoughts and advice about the importance of crafting a story versus picking an easy meter and rhyme is outstanding information. ~Suzy Leopold
The rhythm examples are great reference. I like the colour coded recipe idea, thanks as always for this priceless info both of you. !!
Thanks for the great picture book breakdown.
And for talking about the right rhythm.
! I love baking 🙂
Loved learning all the ingredients needed for my PB souffle but am curious how the mama’s voice in your story squeezed though the crack in the door when it was a screen door?
Cooking and writing! I love it.
Nice post, Jill! I hadn’t thought about how looong vowels slooow the pace and short vowels quicken it before. Angie, good advice on color coding the different elements of a story! Thanks to you both!
I hope to read your whole grizzly book one of these days, Angie! Thanks for getting us hooked.
Love the examples Jill uses from her books to show us how to create mood and change pacing through meter and word choices. Her books are now on my must-read list.
Loved your picture book cake 🙂
Excellent information from both Jill and Angie! Thanks Love the color coding idea.
I a huge Jill Esbaum fan! Love her books! Thanks for the color coding example, Angie.
Thanks for all the wonderful information!
Jill, I cannot wait to read your books. Thank you Jill and Angie for this excellent lesson. Angie, you’re brilliant. Just so you know.
Jill, thank you for posting about choosing the correct rhythm for our stories. Your advice and excellent examples give me hope for finding my stride.
Angie, thank you for the lesson on hook, character and plot. Loved the color coding and I hope to read your finished bear story 🙂 I tried out the recipe for making a PB cake-very clever-thank you!
Thanks for the terrific post and great examples, Jill, and for the clever recipe, Angie.
Jill and Angie, thank you the advice and examples of how to make our stories just right!
As always, food for thought–and today it was cake! Great post, Angie.
Thanks, Jill, for the tips on the ways to effectively use rhythm in different texts. And, nice technique of highlighting different parts of a story, Angie — I’ve seen this done with novels before, but not with picture books.