“On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again….“
Oh, sorry! I guess it is a little early Monday morning to be subjecting you to my singing 🙂
But, like the song says, I am on the road again. This time it’s JFK or bust. Talk about scary traffic loops! I’m really and truly hoping I find the right terminal. If anyone wants to send good vibes my way, I won’t say no!
Of course I’ve been to JFK lots of times before… but always in a cab with a taxi driver who knows where he’s going! But there’s nothing like adding a little excitement to your life, right? 🙂
Speaking of which, where is my EZ Pass? Seriously, the whole point of an EZ Pass is EASE! Back when I had the Dogmobile, it was easy. It stuck right to the windshield by the rearview mirror. When I switched to Princess Blue Kitty, the EZ Pass came with me, but the stick-on thingies went with the Dogmobile, so now my EZ Pass is supposed to be in the glove compartment, but I have to remember to take it out and hold it up to the windshield. And sometimes it falls down in the cracks somewhere… and searching for it makes for perilous driving… talk about excitement… It must be here somewhere… And you must be able to get replacement stick-on thingies…
Anyway, whilst I’m driving through confounding traffic patterns and searching for my EZ Pass, you all can read the answer to today’s Oh Susanna question, another one from Darshana – she should probably get double billing on Oh Susanna since she’s always so full of helpful questions 🙂 Which reminds me, if anyone has any questions, please send them along – I’m nearly out!
Today Darshana is wondering whether it’s okay to use sentence fragments in picture books (and I happen to know Robyn was wondering this too, so I’m assuming maybe a lot of people are in the same state of wonderment :)) Here is her exact question:
Recently I was typing out Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer so I could study the text.
In a few places there were sentence fragments posing as sentences.
“And pet kittens. And bake.”
I understand why this was done in the finished book. However, when submitting a MS should a pb author use correct grammar all the time, or can the author take artistic license to make the story more alive?
This is a very good question. Because as Darshana so cleverly pointed out with an example, there are LOTS of instances where sentence fragments are used in picture books.
The answer is fairly straightforward. In general, you should be as correct as possible. Your grammar should be correct. Your spelling should be correct. Your word usage should be correct. Your manuscripts should be presented in as professionally written a way as you are capable of.
HOWEVER, judiciously used, for a specific purpose, sentence fragments can be acceptable, as can sentences beginning with “and” or “but” (normally big no-nos). It must be for the sake of effect, rhythm, or voice, though. It has to feel right. And it can’t be every single sentence. It may also be best not to use one right up front to start your story, lest the editor reading it think you don’t know how to construct a sentence.
The best advice I can give you is to read lots of picture books (always a good practice anyway) and see when and how sentence fragments are used in traditionally published books. This will give you a feel for what’s acceptable.
This question also brings to mind a related one – about proper language. If you are familiar with Junie B. Jones, you will know that Junie speaks in a way that is supposed to sound childlike and five-year-oldish. Personally, I have never heard a five year old speak that way – none of mine did – but I get the point. My kids enjoyed the stories, but when I read them aloud, I always corrected the grammar. I just couldn’t read them aloud as they were printed. Clearly, this is something that doesn’t bother lots and lots of people, and clearly didn’t bother the editor who bought the book, so my point is, to some degree, it’s a matter of voice and personal taste. It is also one of the things that separates one writer’s style from another’s. Barbara Park is comfortable writing that way and has enjoyed a great deal of success with Junie (and for the record, I think her stories are appealing, as is Junie, and kids really like them – I just personally stumble over that language issue a bit). But I think what makes it work for her is the fact that she’s telling good stories. I can’t think of an instance where incorrect language is used in picture books, though, except perhaps occasionally in an illustrated note that is supposed to look as though a child wrote it.
Darshana, I do hope that answers your question. If not, please feel free to ask for further clarification in the comments. And as always, I would be glad to have anyone with knowledge and expertise in this area add their two cents – this is a collaborative effort to help all of us be better educated and prepared to do a better job with our writing – so comment away!
Now, I guess I’d better find that flingin’-flangin’ EZ Pass. There’s a toll booth coming up!
Have a great day, everyone 🙂