3 Tips for Pacing in Picture Books

DSCF6518adjusted Yesterday there was a Twitter chat on pacing in picture books (#PBPacing) with kidlit agent Jodell Sadler. She imparted some great tips on how to make your picture book text shine through what she calls the five Ps: ‘Pacing, prosody, poetry, play and performance’. She describes pacing as, “…the interplay of art and words, the slowing and speeding of the text to enhance story emotionally.”

3 tips for Pacing in Picture Books

  1. Be aware of page turns. Whether you make up a mock PB or a table in Word, think about where your page turns will be and how those page turns affect pacing. If you’re not sure how many pages a PB should have or how the page layout works, Tara Lazar (picture book author and founder of PiBoIdMo) has a great post on picture book layouts (seriously, bookmark this post!) Jodell says of page turns, “Page turns are integral. They offer surprise, new scene, and interactivity to your book…”
  2. Consider the sound of your words and the rhythm of the text. This is called ‘prosody’. It can make a huge difference to the read-aloud-ability of your PB. Practice reading your PB aloud and listen to the rhythm. This is just as important for prose PBs as it is for rhyming PBs. Jodell says, “We can write long and drawn out, especially if we add description or we can select key objects and place + add in rhythmic description and really juju up our efforts faster.”
  3. Great repetitive lines can enhance your PB. One point Jodell made that stood out to me was using the rule of 3s with repetitive lines. She said to repeat the same line 3 times, then have a break. The repetitive line can serve as a pacing marker in your story. If the 3 repetitions denote setbacks in the story arc, then having a break for the climax demands attention from the reader. Jodell says of of repetitive lines, “Kids love to join in.” 

Jodell has lots more great tips on her website Pacing Picture Books.

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