Make a Superlative Book

by Mo Willems.*

• Biggest thing one needs to do…decide whose side your on…the key: BE ON THE KID’S SIDE. • Realize that childhood sucks. • Life is filled with restrictions for kids. • Keep in mind that the book must be read aloud…it’s like a script or play. • Study improv comedy. • Our picture books are THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES. • Sound of the words is very important. • Mo says…if he can read a ms and understand what’s going on, there are too many words. • Take out as much as possible and let each word do as much as possible: Nouns and verbs are important. • The more words you have on the page, the faster it’ll be read and vice versa…example: in Leonardo the Terrible Monster there is one page that contains only one word…Sam. When a teacher reads this page, she reads it slowly. • Characters who are enemies are so b/c they are essentially the same. • It only takes one moment of empathy to turn enemies into friends. • Storyboard your ms so you can see what happens in the page turn. • Work for an audience…always keep the audience in mind. • Once you care about the audience more than yourself, you are a writer. • Develop a loud sense of empathy—how would I feel if I were in a kid’s position? • Mo says, “Their [kids’] misery is HILARIOUS. Just be on their side.” • With ideas…the easy part is coming up with one…the hard part is keeping it alive. • Look for emotional truth in a story. • Seeming effortless is KEY. • “Books should not be read. They should be played.” • He plays with characters and situations. • He explores characters before putting them in a story. • He designs the star of every book so a kid can easily render the character’s image.
*I was cleaning old files and found this fantastic list saved from August 2006. My apologies I cannot properly credit the note-taker. 🙁

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