3 Tips for Writing Quiet Stories

I recently read The Night Walk by Marie Dorleans. I wasn’t sure what to expect but a writing friend was over the moon for this book. It is a sweet story about a family that goes for a walk at night. This isn’t just a stroll through the neighborhood or a holiday story. Holiday story? Think Christmas Eve or Halloween. It is about a family on a journey to greet the sunrise.

As befits a story about a night time walk, it is very quiet. We often worry about writing a story that is too quiet. After all, quiet stories aren’t an easy sale. But there are three things you can do to help get a “YES” on your quiet story.

Depth and Emotion

Way back in 2015, I wrote about Connie Hsu’s comments on quiet picture books. Hsu is an editor at Roaring Brook. She explained that editors mean something different when they call a book quiet. They mean that they won’t be able to get marketing (or buyers) excited about it.

This means that a book that doesn’t have big action or laughs can sell. But it has to have depth and emotion. These are what draws the reader in to this type of book.

A Hook

Quiet picture books also need to have a hook. Think about the quiet stories that readers love. The two that always come to mind for me are Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and Dream Snow by Eric Carle. Both are seasonal books about a winter night. Owl Moon is a book about owling and family. Those are the hooks. Dream Snow is a Christmas book. The Night Walk is about family. It also sets the reader up for a discussion about the difference between night and day, sunrise and sunset.

A hook can also be something surprising or a twist. There are other books about walks. But these are daytime walks through the red wood forest. Or walks to school. This is a book about a night time walk that isn’t an escape!

An Audience

So who is it that will buy your quiet book? Many quiet books make excellent gift books. You could give Owl Moon to either a bird lover or a new father. I would choose The Night Walk for new parents or nature enthusiasts.

So who is the audience for your quiet book? Is it a baby book? A birthday book? Maybe it is a holiday book.

Rowdy or quiet, if your story has a depth, a hook and a definable audience, you are much more likely to get a YES from an editor or agent.