One of the most difficult things for new writers, and even experienced writers, to grasp are the differences between different types of writing. How does an early reader manuscript differ from a picture book? How does a magazine story differ from a picture book manuscript?
Today, I’m going to talk about how a magazine story manuscript differs from a picture book manuscript. And let me emphasize something. We are talking about manuscripts. Once the two pieces are published, the physical form of the published piece takes over and dominates the form of the story or manuscript.
That’s why we are focusing on manuscripts. So how does a magazines piece differ from a picture book? First lets cover how they don’t differ.
It isn’t length. Manuscripts for either form can have a word count of well-below 100 words to several hundred.
It isn’t focus. Magazine stories focus on the protagonist. You generally don’t have to the time or space to bring in numerous siblings or the entire class. But a picture book can also have this super tight focus.
There are two principal differences between a magazine story and a picture book. The first is illustration possibilities. Due to the format, a picture book has 32 pages. Some of these pages may become back matter. There is going to be a title page. But you usually need at least 14 spreads. If you don’t have 14 distinct illustration possibilities than you probably aren’t writing a picture book manuscript.
The second principal difference is lasting appeal or value for the buck. Is your story something that a parent or grandparent would be willing to pay $16.99 to read again and again and again? If the story isn’t going to hold up to multiple readings, either to a classroom or a single child, then it isn’t a picture book. This means that a picture book story has to have depth and adult appeal.
Take a look at your manuscript. Have you created something with 14 distinct illustration possibilities? These can be changes in action, tone or setting. The illustrator can zoom out or zoom in but you have to give this person a story they can work with.
Now look at it for value/depth. Is this something that you can see an adult reading again and again? Neither type of writing is easy but it is all much easier if you know what to look for in your work.