Thursday, September 24, 2020

6 Different Book Formats

It takes a different type of runner to excel in the 50-yard dash than it does to excel in the ultra marathon. The difference is in the format. Some runners like to run short sprints, while others can go the distance for hours on end.

Just as there are different race distances (100-meter, 1-mile, 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, and ultras), there are different book formats too. 






A book’s (or a writer’s) audience is simply the age of the reader. 

Genre is the category of the book, based on story elements, setting, and location.

The format of a book is different from the audience and genre categories. The following list is an example of a few different book formats. When writing your own book, the audience and genre are the two you should focus on. Format is more of the way in which you write your story or the way in which it is printed.






Board Books

  • Board books are typically meant for babies ages 0-2. Sometimes they are picture books that later get turned into a board book format. It is a very difficult market to break into. Most board books are developed in house.

Rhyming Picture Books

  • Since picture books aren’t typically categorized by genres, per se, any “genre” (contemporary, historical, fiction, nonfiction, humans, animals, etc) can be either rhyming or in prose. Most editors say they aren’t looking for rhyme since it’s difficult to do it well.

Graphic Novels

  • Most graphic novels are for children and tend to run in the MG range. This is a format and not a genre (though some would disagree). Stories can employ any of the genres: contemporary, historical, mystery, coming of age, fantasy, even super heroes.

Novels in Verse

  • Similar in nature to a rhyming PB, novels written in verse are becoming more and more popular. The story itself can fit into any of the genres available for novels. It’s a popular YA option, though most novels are definitely written in prose.

Hardback Books

  • Most new books are released in hardback. This is across the board for PB, MG, novels, fiction, and nonfiction. This is a very easy-to-understand book format.

Paperback Books

  • Most paperback books are released after the hardback edition.


Keep on keepin' on... 

Friday, September 18, 2020

What Audience Are You Writing For?

One Saturday morning, I went for a run and ended up with a very unique audience that day. No, I wasn’t running in a race with hundreds of spectators dressed in costume.

After I hit the 2-mile mark, I turned around to head back home for a total of 4 miles that day. When I hit the 3-mile mark, there were about 16 wild eyes staring at me. There were eight black-bellied barbados sheep watching me run up the hill beside their fenced-in area. It was a little odd and slightly humorous. Too bad I didn’t have my camera that day. 






It made me think about audiences for writers, though. As writers, it’s very important to who you’re writing for. You wouldn’t write about adultery for a 5-year-old. But what about cheating? Would you write about that for an 8-year-old reader?

Audience is the age group of your readership. Children’s books are 0-17. Adult books are 18+. Children’s books are divided into four main categories. These are guidelines, though there are always exceptions.

You could also include Board Books (BB) for babies age 0-2; and Early Readers (ER) for children age 5-8. Notice how the ages overlap. That’s because children don’t develop linguistically at the same rate. It takes time to develop a strong independent reader.

Use this Writer’s Audience Guide to help you decide not only who your audience is, but also the age of your characters and how many words you’ll need to write. 






Picture Books (PB)

  • Age of reader: All ages (Typically meant to be read aloud to 4-8 year olds.)
  • Age of character: All ages (Usually 5-10 year olds.)
  • Word length range: 0 to 1,000+ (Sweet spot is 500 to 800.)

Chapter Books (CB)

  • Age of reader: 7-9
  • Age of character: 7-10
  • Word length range: 4,000 to 15,000 (Average length is 6,000 to 10,000.) 
  • Popular genres: Contemporary, Historical, Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery

Middle Grade (MG)

  • Age of reader: 9-12
  • Age of character: 10-12
  • Word length range: 20,000 to 55,000
  • Popular genres: Contemporary, Coming of Age, Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Young Adult (YA)

  • Age of reader: 12-17
  • Age of character: 14-17 
  • Word length range: 55,000 to 80,000
  • Popular genres: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian

New Adult (NA)

    This is a fairly new (and very small) subcategory of Adult fiction.
    • Age of reader: 17-22 (Usually independent women entering their 20s.) 
    • Age of character: 18-30 
    • Word length range: 55,000 to 80,000
    • Popular genres/topics: Romance, College, Career, Identity

    Adult (A)

    • Age of reader: 18+
    • Age of character: 21+
    • Word length range: Novella (20k-50k). Standard (70k-90k). Epic (100k+).
    • Popular genres: All


    Keep on keepin' on... 

    Friday, September 4, 2020

    Plot Arc Summary for Sing, the Movie

    When the computer-animated musical comedy, Sing, came out in 2016, my kids watched it without me. They were 12 and 14 and loved it. Especially my daughter. Once it became available on Netflix, she watched it multiple times before I even saw it once, which is her typical movie-watching habit. 

    So needless to say that when I finally got around to watching Sing too, I loved it just as much as she did. I even took notes so I could share the basic plot structure with you!


    when I finally got around to watching Sing too, I loved it just as much as my daughter did. I even took notes so I could share the basic plot structure with you!


    Summary


    A group of talking animals enters a singing competition hosted by a koala who is trying to save his theatre.

     

    Characters


    This is not a list of all the characters, but it will give you a small idea of what kind of showstopper this is.

    BUSTER MOON. The main character is a koala who is trying to save the run-down theatre he inherited from his father.

    MISS CRAWLY. Buster's administrative assistant, an elderly iguana with a glass eye.

    EDDIE NOODLEMAN. A sheep and Buster's best friend who doubts the future of Buster’s theater.

    NANA NOODLEMAN. A sheep and Eddie's grandmother who was a famous singer back in the day.

    ROSITA. A pig who gave up her music dreams to become a devoted wife and mother of 25 piglets.

    JOHNNY. A teenage gorilla who wants to sing, despite his father grooming him for the family business (the mafia).

    MEENA. A teenage elephant with an amazing voice, but she also has severe stage fright.



    Plot



    THE SIGNUP. Miss Crawley writes up the announcement for the singing competition and her glass eye pops out of her head and lands on the typewriter, adding two extra zeros to the amount of prize money up for grabs.

    Without this plot point, there would be no story.

    THE GUNSHOT. Mr. Moon (Buster) tells the cast members to get a good night’s rest, despite now knowing the error about the prize money amount.

    Buster is in it for the long haul. He knows the risks and chooses to move forward with his plan.

    THE HALFWAY POINT. Mr. Moon fixes up the theatre to make it awesome for Nana Noodeman, in an effort to gain her support and endorsement.

    Buster makes progress, but then he hits “the wall.”

    THE WALL. When the theatre floods, it completely collapses. The bank takes over the property. Buster moves in with his friend, Eddie, who is living in his parents’ pool house. All the characters are at an all-time low. 

    Mr. Moon sees no way of saving his ruined theatre and accepts the fact that his life’s dreams are crushed forever. But wait...

    THE FINISH LINE. Mina the elephant sings the finale at the newly refurbished open air theatre and the performance is packed.


    Clearly, these are just the highlights. There’s a LOT of action that happens to get to each of these plot points. But seeing the structure in this story can help you pinpoint the five main plot points in your own stories. 


    If you liked this post, you’ll also enjoy the other summaries in the Plot Arc Library

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    Keep on keepin' on... 

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