Monday, July 31, 2017

Picture Books: Concept or Plot-Driven


I’ve been sending out my picture book manuscript to several agents and at the same time reviewing some newer, published picture books. A few books are very good, and those are the ones I try to share on my blog. But if you've noticed, I haven't been sharing very many. This is only my opinion regarding picture books, but I still say it's hard to find a good one.
Most of us are familiar with this type of picture book:
Plot-Driven
Setup- Tells a little bit about the characters and maybe the setting.

Problem- Something the main character needs to solve.

Attempt to Solve- Picture books typically will have three attempts.

Try. Fail.

Try. Fail.

Try. Fail.

Drum Roll-Moment of overcoming or solving the problem. 

Resolution- Wrapping up loose ends, and showing positive consequences.  
I'm not going to list the titles of some of the books I'm reading since it might be conceived that I'm criticizing them, I’m not, I’m trying to make a point.
Published 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons: The main character’s friends solve his problem.
Published 2017 by Roaring Brook Press: The problem is solved quite by accident.
Published 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Problem not solved by the main character.
Published 2017 by Tiger Tales: Problem solved, but perhaps not by ways you’d recommend?? (However, I realize it’s a picture book and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.)
More and more picture books seem to be drawing away from Plot-Driven and moving toward Character-Driven.
A Character-Driven Book (be it a child or an animal), is about the main character’s wants, dreams, hopes, plans, problems, and more. These are characters the reader comes to care about, root for, and relate to. The author of character-driven stories needs to understand the main character’s motivations, weakness,  strengths, inspirations, internal struggles. . . well, the author needs to know the character just about as well as he knows himself.
In summary, a Plot-Driven Story features a sequence of events in which the protagonist fights to attain a goal. Character-Driven: A unique and fun character makes internal changes.
You can Google to find examples of each type of book, which can be helpful.


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