PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

YOUNG ADULT

Middle Grade, Picture Books

Establishing Shots: How Tim McCanna Sets Up Peach and Plum, Here We Come! for Success

In order to get early readers on board, Tim had to draw readers in from the very first page and show them what to expect from the book. His 38-word, two-spread introduction to the book is a master establishing shot that covers not just setting, but all the elements readers need to be pulled into a story.

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Tim McCanna: “Trusting your intuition has to be earned by running into a lot of roadblocks and successfully finding your way through them. That’s true for any kind of writing.”

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The more specific a story, the more universal it becomes. This is one of the most enduring bits of writing advice I have ever received. When we can write to one particular story, experience, character with specific detail and nuance, it makes it real. It feels true. There are always spaces to find our shared humanity, and this is only possible when we come to understand the richness around us.

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Numbers have power, magic, even. Not the abracadabra kind, but the kind that makes a reader sit up and pay attention even though they don’t know why. Sarah Aronson understands the power of the number three as a literary device and uses it masterfully in her picture book, Brand New Bubbe.

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Sarah Aronson: “No two projects emerge the same way, but I will commit to this: my process is aggressively playful. It’s my policy NEVER to say no to an idea until I’ve tried it out.”

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Backstory is a necessary part of telling a story, but how much to include and what to leave out can be complicated. It’s rare in books for kids to have many pages of backstory in a row (though Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate does it with style). At KidLit Craft, we’ve explored backstory in many categories and genres. Here are our favorite posts about backstory.

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The 4th post in our “In Summary” series, collecting our best posts on point of view. These posts detail how different authors approach point of view, and tools they use to craft each point of view effectively.

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Our summer series, In Summary, draws together a number of posts from are archives on specific craft topics. Today’s posts offer strategies for how to capture your characters’ emotions, communicate them to your readers, and make your reader feel something too.

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Place matters. A story set in Paris can be transported to Atlanta, but the story fundamentally changes because of the geography, culture, language, idioms, weather, daylight hours, experience of time, and so much more. These posts explore how to establish settings and leverage them to enhance the reading experience.

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Just because you have to use simple words doesn’t mean the story has to lack emotion or depth. It’s challenging, but early readers can still use all the elements of story—character, plot, setting, etc. In fact, looking to early readers as a model, writers in other categories can see how efficient storytelling can be without sacrificing emotional depth.

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