I grew up with a funny guy.
(No, Walter Matthau isn’t my dad, but I don’t have a digital photo of my father and he looks just like Mr. Wilson from “Dennis the Menace.” So this will have to do.)
Anyway, he’s the one who passed along his sharp, dry humor to me. He was actually a Chemical Patent Attorney for a large petroleum company and used to speak about opening a law firm together when I grew up. Only being a Chemical Patent Attorney is quite possibly the career of my nightmares. I suppose his job is why he’s so funny—it didn’t provide gas for humor so he had to create his own laughs. (It did provide gas, though.)
A simple man, he has means but always preferred to live in a small apartment or condo. When I asked him why he didn’t buy something larger, he quipped, “Why? You can only be in one room at a time.”
So I began thinking about this concept recently…as it applies to picture books, of course. You know I suffer from PBOTB (Picture Books on the Brain, not Picture Book Off-Track Betting). Here’s what I came up with:
“You can only be on one spread at a time.”
So what does this mean?
When you’re finished with your tale, cut it in pieces.
You may already be aware of my layout templates:
Look at each spread of your story individually and ask yourself some questions:
- Does it move the story forward?
- Does it provide a page-turn surprise?
- Does it provide ample opportunity for illustrative interpretation or an illustrative subtext?
- Is it interesting and entertaining? Does the reader want to linger?
- Is it active?
- Does it have too much text?
- Does the scene change from the previous page?
Remember, you can only be on one spread at a time. Make each one MATTER.
Maybe you’d like to comment with your interpretation of this witty Pops-inspired picture book phrase…? Please do!
And now, the winner of my March giveaway–Philip C. Stead and Matthew Cordell’s SPECIAL DELIVERY!
Congratulations, Diana, I’ll be emailing you!
Now I usually end with something witty, so I called my dad for comment. He says being a children’s book author is quite possibly the career of his nightmares. And with that, he’s ready for a nap…albeit a scary one.