B IS FOR BACKSTORY (IN PICTURE BOOKS)

B IS FOR BACKSTORY. back

ferdinandAs a reader of old school novels and picture books, I can appreciate backstory in chapter one. But those days are gone and far between. Editors and agents are now telling you to write a novel in the middle of the action to hook the reader. Then sprinkle the backstory throughout. For me, this is hard. I want to connect with the character and learn the problem before I am dab smack in the middle of it action, drama, and mess. But it is what it is; and I have to “keep it moving”. imagesCAWVI72N

But writing a novel is very different from writing a picture book. Now, I am hearing that agents only want picture books less than 600 words. This is where I have a problem. It is a difficult task. It is not as easy as people think. I am a huge fan of Patricia Polacco. All her picture books are over 1000-words. And I love her writing. I love her illustrations. And I love her. Point blank. Period.

mlk But if you are writing fictional picture books, there is no need for backstory. The illustrators can paint that scene to give the reader that information. In nonfiction picture book, backstory is a BIG DEAL. It tells the agents and editors that you have done your homework. So the truth is there is a place for backstory in picture books. Definitely in nonfiction, included it on the “author’s note page”. That is where you would add all the information that you left our of the story. bat bas
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