Monday, August 31, 2015

COSCBWI Meeting August 2015

This month's Central and Southern Ohio SCBWI meeting involved scissors, glue sticks, and lots of laughter!  I think it's safe to say that children's writers and illustrators are naturally drawn to arts and crafts projects, so the August meeting topic was a perfect fit: creating picture book dummies!

Regional Advisor, Linda Miller, explained the ins and outs of making picture book dummies.  A picture book dummy is a physical mock-up of your manuscript as a 32-page book.  (While there are exceptions to that page count, 32 is the industry standard and a safe choice to use for your dummy.)  Most writers and illustrators are used to seeing their words on a computer screen or printed out in manuscript format over a few pages.  The goal of a picture book dummy is to divide your manuscript over 32 pages and see how it holds up in "book format."  Picture book dummies are great for giving you a new perspective on your story and how it unfolds page by page.  They are also a wonderful way to determine:

-if your story is too long or too short
-if your story has a logical flow
-if there are enough scene changes
-if there are too many words on any given page 
-if your envisioned page turns are interesting
-if your plot has any weak points

Not only are picture book dummies easy-peasy to make, but they're inexpensive, too.  We made ours with:

-eight sheets of paper
-pen or pencil

All you have to do is fold your eight pieces of paper in half (like a book), staple the pages together at the center, chop up your manuscript, and paste the words on each page.  Then you can doodle some illustrations in if you'd like, and voila!  You have a mock-up of your story as a 32-page book.

It doesn't have to be perfect; globs of glue and five-second scribbles are a-okay!

If your dummy isn't everything you hoped it would be, it may be a sign that your manuscript needs a little more work.  Don't be afraid to revise, then try again (and again, and again!)  You'll be glad you did when it's time to submit to agents and editors.  Picture book dummies are also a fun way to experiment with your manuscript; you may just discover something delightful as you snip and shuffle your text.  :) 

If you want to learn more about Central and Southern Ohio SCBWI, be sure to visit the website at  I hope to see you at the September meeting!     

Note: Art and text are from my own manuscript.