Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writing Picture Books

We took a trip to Parkersburg last week and I went in Borders. I checked out with this book.

I love it! Here are pictures of the table of contents. Click on the pictures and you will be able to read it.

There are quotes throughout the book, the one in the prologue reads:

I love revisions. Where else in life can spilled milk be transformed into ice cream?
---Katherine Patterson

My son wonders why I keep revising my stories. He thinks the first draft should be the final draft. But completing the draft is only the beginning of the writing process.

I am still reading this book and I have learned a lot from it. I am using her advice and going over my picture books I have already written and revising them yet again.

She mentions the 6 Ws:
Who is your main character? The main character must come on the scene first.
What does your character want? What is the main character's problem, goal or conflict?
When is your story taking place? Give hints indicative of the time period.
Where is your story taking place? City, country, suburbs, farm, etc.
What is the tone of your story? By careful selection of words, you let them know if it is going to be sad, happy, serious, etc
WOW! Whether it be with a word or a phrase, early in the book you must hook the reader

As you can see by the table of contents above, the book covers a lot of territory. Some people think writing a picture book is easy, but it is far from it. You have to pick the right story and the right words.

Every word only has to be perfect ---- Ursula Nordstrom

The book has a section on Rhyming Books. Children love poetry, but publishers want the rhythm and rhyme to be perfect. Every word must move your story forward and the rhyme pattern must be consistent. Unless you are very good, this is hard to do and the editors will be sending your manuscript into the slush pile never to be seen again.

The first line of a poem is a hawk which won't let go of its prey. ---Gabriel Preil

If you love writing picture books, create a fabulous first line and start writing.

If you are serious about writing picture books, I recommend this Hands-On-Guide.


  1. Sounds like a great book. I'll have to look for it at Barnes & Noble.
    Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. Love the new background! And that book sounds like a good one. One of the members of my critique group is partcipating in the picture book marathon this month. I'll let her know about your favorites! Thanks!

  3. I'm glad you felt inspired. Thanks for sharing and best of luck making ice cream. :]

  4. Very interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing that list and the book, Janet!

  5. Janet,
    I love that you found my blog and I found yours. We're very much alike - at least in our love of WV. AND our love of words and writing. YOU WILL GET PUBBED. The trick is in not giving up and trudging on. Pick up that cross and climb that hill. I'm with you in your travels. Here's to our success. Barb W


Thank you for your comments. I love comments!