five common errors


1.Where’s the story?  Make sure there IS a story. A good story has plot and tension,   not just a series of events.  Start writing where the story begins. Don’t bury the reader in information. The key is not to include events or conversations that don’t advance the story. First pages are critical. A great opening line hooks the reader. Example: Charlotte’s Web: “Where’s Papa going with that axe?”

2.Too many words/too many pages Limit your picture book to 1000 words or less. 800 words is even better. Let the illustrations help carry the story. Picture books are usually 28 to 32 pages. VERY RARELY do publishers deviate because of cost and printing issues. 

3.Not child-oriented. Are you using words and expressions children will understand? If you frustrate a child, he or she will put the book down. Does your dialogue really sound the way people talk? Stilted language is very common. Goes back to LISTEN – people use contractions and shortcuts when they talk.

4.Slipshod editing. Use your spellcheck and eliminate spelling and grammar issues, then take a hard look at the writing.Tighten your writing: get rid of excess/unnecessary/repetitive words. Make sure the flow and rhythm of the story are right. Be clear and visual. Editors aren’t looking for diamonds in the rough.

        A word about poetry: Kids love poetry. Most people write very bad poetry. Poems don’t always need to rhyme, but they always need rhythm. A famous author once said, “Writing children’s books is like writing music.”

5.Improper format. If your manuscript is sloppy, editors will assume your writing is the same. You don’t need fancy fonts, colors, etc, and your manuscript doesn’t need to be divided into pages. Give your manuscript the best possible chance: check publisher guidelines, which are usually posted on their websites.

For more tips, Click on the titles below:

Some Basic Advice

It’s All in the Writing

Tips for Traditional Publishing



            © Marion Coste 2016