Thursday, May 28, 2015
Picture Books Mini Workshop: Part Three: Language
Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults
“One can see the importance of reading the words aloud from a picture book: it is more important how the words will sound when heard, than seen when read.” Uri Shulevitz
Language always matters, but for this age words need to be chosen with precise purpose. Shulevitz points out that as an audience of mostly non-readers, they will see the pictures and hear the words.
Choices to consider:
1. Simplify the form.
2. What’s the exact problem?
3. Is the emotion clear?
4. Is the story line straightforward?
5. Rhyme can either help or be a roadblock. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to use this?” How could it strengthen the story or weaken the story?
6. Consider potential of Rhythm—poetry without rhyme but with meter.
7. Develop the sound of words by reading poetry and picture books aloud. One quote given somewhere says that before writing a book an author should read at least 100 in their genre.
8. Music helps shape your prose as well. Listen for melodic lines and patterns to borrow, such as liturgy or a rap.
9. If you use Repetition it must serve the story. Look for simplicity here as well.
Action Steps: Build a Sensory Vocabulary
Start a reference Journal
1. In a workshop I once took with author Ethel Herr, she suggested choosing a different sense per day and paying close attention to just it. So on Monday notice everything you smell. On Tuesday touch, Wednesday taste, Thursday hear, Friday see.
2. Then next to each word on each list expand. Again, did something smell rotten? Was it rotten like an egg, a sewer, or a dead fish? What distinguishes each ‘rotten’ smell? Repeat for any words that you want more depth to.
Suggestion. Next to your list above have another column with words that babies to five year olds can identify with. The two year old in my family is not shy about saying ‘yucky’, which to him can be a truly bad odor, like garbage, as well as a delicious soup simmering on the stove. If he doesn’t like the smell—it’s yucky.
3. Add to this reference journal any time you notice a characteristic that enhances emotional connections.
Share: Which sense do you rarely notice?
Read deep, marcy