Last week we took a quick look at picture book construction. All editors and publishing houses have their own methods, but in my personal experience, the editors I worked with laid out the words using a book dummy. They also noted illustrations ideas on those pages to share with me and the illustrator. Laying the story out is important because page breaks are. We want the reader to keep turning the pages ! So authors should be thinking about page breaks and story layout as they revise their manuscript.
TO DO THIS authors and illustrators might make a STORY BOARD
To make a story board take a long piece of paper and fold it so you get 16 rectangles and you will divide each in two for your 32 pages (see above). These are called thumbnails. You can plan your illustrations by doing a sketch or writing what it would be. You can write your text in, but if it’s a lot of words you could put first and last word.
OR a BOOK DUMMY
A book dummy can be made a couple of ways. You could take 8 sheets of paper, fold in the middle and you’ll have 32 pages. Or you can make a smaller one by folding a large sheet of paper in half one way and then the other. Then cut on those folds. Fold in half and you have a 16 page signature. How many do we need to make the most common number of pages in a picture book?
Some things to think about
So how will you decide where to break your story? These are some things to consider:
Suspense: Think about books you’ve read-picture books or chapter books. One of the things that makes us want to turn the page or read more is wondering what is going to happen on the next page. So suspense is important in thinking about your page breaks.
Illustrations: You want your illustrations to be different on each page, so as you look at your text you think about how you might illustrate those words or use pictures to add to the story.
White space: In most books you don’t want so many words on a page that there’s not enough room for pictures or that it looks overwhelming to read.
Question in the text: answer on next page
Stop a sentence in the middle: SYLVIA WAS LATE FOR SCHOOL, SO SHE TOOK A SHORTCUT THROUGH THE BUSHES AND ALMOST TRIPPED OVER A…. (KITTEN) on the next page
Transition words: Then, When, But, And, Until and Ellipsis SYLVIA WAS LATE FOR SCHOOL. SHE LEFT ON TIME, BUT…
Rhythm: of quick page breaks, build anticipation
When an editor works on your story your page breaks might change, but thinking about them has helped you submit a better story!