You may have heard this advice that making a dummy of your picture book manuscript is a great help. This helps to have a feeling of the story’s pace. It assists you to know how much dialogue and action have you envisioned for each page.
This dummy is neither for submission nor it is a final version of a manuscript. This is merely one step of revision, an influential step!
Making a dummy is supposed to be easy. Take 4 (or 8) white papers, fold them and write your manuscript on them.
I tried with the printed copy of my manuscript, scissors, and glue. Halfway through cutting sentences and gluing them to the white papers, I realized I needed to shorten the dialogue because it took four spreads! This meant I had the I made shout be trashed.
Then I tried with a pencil and an eraser. It was a significant development, however, it took me a while.
Then I thought of making an easily browsable digital dummy, something like grocery store catalogs. I don’t know about the USA but they are very popular here in Germany, both printed and online copies. There are apps to check these weekly catalogs.
I thought there should be a website that offers catalog-making services. A quick google search brought me a long list but I wanted FREE software. Anyway, I found one: Issuu (free for one user, with an unlimited number of uploads).
You just need to upload a paginated PDF or a DOC file and many more formats. The website accepts uploads from the computer and from a cloud service (Google Drive and Dropbox).
In less than one minute, your digital dummy is ready. You can re-upload the manuscript countless times.
Another advantage is that you can PUBLISH the dummy and share its link. I found it useful when I want to ask my critique partners’ opinions! They can see my envisioned manuscript.
For my non-fiction manuscripts, I added photos or pictures for each spread. Or, I wrote descriptions. This was a great help to envision a balance between text and image/illustration.
I write blog posts about the craft of writing picture books regularly. The list of the previous posts is on the PictureBookPedia. Also, I publish a quarterly newsletter that includes links to my recent blog posts