Sunday, May 27, 2007


I’ve been working on a picture books manuscript, trying to get it to be a page turner. At the advice of Linda Pratt, an agent with the Sheldon Fogelman Agency, I have made a dummy. Now, my dummies are nothing fancy. I took eight pieces of fluorescent green paper, folded them in half, and wrote my story in pencil–what I think would logically go on each page.

Dummying is a really depressing—I mean helpful, exercise. As I wrote my story down I came to some quick realizations:

Some portions of the story do not have a definite page break.
Some parts are too long.
Some parts don’t have a good feature to illustrate.
Some parts just suck.

So, I’ve cut, added, and restructured. I hope the manuscript is the better for it, but I do miss some of the parts I had to cut. Many of them were my favorite scene set-ups—I’ll have to leave that for the illustrator. And I’ll tuck those lines away. Maybe I’ll find a use for them someday.

I have to admit, I don’t dummy often; only once that I can remember. Sometimes I do a rough numbering of paragraphs to see where I’m at, but after this I’m going to have to dummy every picture book I write. It really gave me a good perspective on what I need to do to make a salable manuscript.

I think I may even experiment with writing in dummy form. I’ll be forced to create a page turn from the start, make scenes more even and uniquely illustratable, and, of course, I’ll try to make things not suck. Who knows? I just might work a little faster and hopefully a little better.


  1. Dummying, at some point, is one of those things they recommend picture book authors to do. Or at least count how many scene changes you have. I wouldn't worry about one page having more words than another. A page can have 3 or 4 words or it or even none at all. Good luck, Heather.

    Have you resolved your computer problems yet? I just got a new laptop but I borrowed the Word CD from our tech. department and downloaded it onto my computer. I hate computer problems. So annoying.

  2. I'm so glad I don't have to make a dummy for my MG! LOL!

    I can say with confidence that I've given up on picture book writing. I'm tired of forcing something that just isn't there. I am a chatterbox at heart and prefer to yammer on and on. :)