depthI’d heard it said before — to stand up to repeat readings, your picture book has to have depth to pull the reader back again and again.  This weekend, at a retreat lead by an editor who primarilly works on novels, I learned to add depth to my picture book.

As much as my critique group liked this story, something didn’t quite work.   It has humor.  The main character is a child.  It has a fun setting.  And the kid is way smarter than the adults.  The character even grows.  What more could you want?  Other than a fully functioning picture book manuscript, I mean.

Fortunately, Cheryl Klein helped me spot what was missing.  

Cheryl is a big one for action — she believes that for your character to be interesting, she or he has to do something.  They have to work toward something.  Decide, move and do. 

The current plot in my picture book allows my character to sit around and wait for other people to act.  Than he reacts.  These interactions are all funny but that just isn’t enough.  They have to be more purposeful.   Why?  Because what I’ve been thinking of as the plot should be his desire, what drives him.  It will make a great internal plot but I need a fully functional external plot.  Add that to what I’ve already got and I’ll have a fun character, humor and depth.

Aren’t unexpected gifts the greatest?