Thursday, July 28, 2011

When Writing a Dummy Book...

For those of you who may not know, a dummy book is not a book for those
who could be compared to crayons who are not the brightest in the box,
but rather a layout of your picture book text. You make your own little
book out of construction paper (for example) to be certain it fits within 
the 32 page format required for children's picture books. It's a great way
to figure out the page turning points in your story and whether your 
story flows well. 

I've mentioned before that I've been reading Ann Whitford Paul's Writing 
Picture Books, the dummy book is covered in chapter 17. I spent the 
majority of the day yesterday making dummy books for my first three stories.
I'll share what I learned, but first let me tell you what not to do when making
a dummy book.

When making a dummy book, wait and buy "lift off" magic tape if you 
don't have it in the house. I didn't, so I used a glue stick instead. Twice 
on story #1, I realized that I had skipped lines that needed to be pasted in,
necessitating pulling some off and glueing them back in later. Don't try to
work on your dummy book if your children (especially if they are toddlers/
preschool age) are not incapacitated by sleep. Wait until nap time or bed

I thought having my daughter help me would be a good idea. Not really.
Figuring out page turning points requires concentration, and my Sweat Pea
is quite the conversationalist. Whatever you do, don't try to work on your
dummy book on your family room couch! What was I thinking? Granted I 
was using safety scissors, but my toddler thought grabbing things from me,
like it was some type of fabulous game. That didn't last long. Lastly, don't 
become so obsessed by your project that your spouse has to say, "Hey, 
Honey, yeah you, remember me?" It's hard for me to stop a project once 
I've started. 

Through the process of making my dummy books (I did get all three done),
I caught a typo or two and rearranged some wording to make the flow of
one of the stories better. It's a great way to get a fresh look at your manuscript,
and to see whether it will actually work well in book form. If you write picture
books, I highly recommend this process. 

I was also able to finish the fourth story in my book series on Tuesday night
and am so excited with how it turned out. I don't know if it's ready to go into
dummy book form yet. I'll need to reread and revise a few times first. :)

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