Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Writing Picture Books

First off, a Big Happy Birthday to Rate Your Story! They are a great site for writers. They give out free critiques and this month they are celebrating and giving away weekly prizes. If you write for children, check them out. You won't be sorry.

Now, on to my post.
This is a test!

Writing a picture book is easy.   True or False
Writing a picture book can be done in a day. True or False
Anyone can write a picture book.  True or False

Okay, how did you answer?
Here are my answers:
I answer a definite False on the first question.
Writing a good picture book is just as hard as writing a good novel.

On the second question, I say True . . . but only the first draft.
But, your first draft is a long ways from being a finished manuscript.

On the third question, I say True. . . but not everyone can write a good picture book.

I have quite a few picture book manuscripts that I have written over the past few years.
I recently started working on one of them again. I thought this is a 'nice' bedtime story with counting thrown in to make it more interesting. But, it needed something else, I wasn't satisfied with it.

It needs to be a lot more than 'nice' to have a chance at getting published. There are, I am sure, lots of nice picture book manuscripts out there.

Yours has to shine, it has to be different, it has to pop!

I got feedback from critique partners and from a published children's writer.
The published children's writer kept pushing me to make it better and to make it more unique.
She mentioned other published picture books for me to look at and get ideas from.

I did and I changed it a little and I thought to myself, this is better.

She pushed me again and again, she said the ending is not right. I thought to myself, I like the ending, I don't know what else to do.
I thought about it some more, brought a newer version of it to my writing group, got more ideas, made more changes and thought, this is better, I really like this!

But, something was still missing. I still had to do something with the ending.
It came to me. . . the ending now has a twist! A small twist, but a twist.

Since I first wrote this manuscript over two years ago, it has went through three different titles and has been drastically changed. . . and it is much better!

I really, really like it now!

In order to write a good picture book, unless your first draft is fantastic, you can't be satisfied with a nice manuscript. You can't be satisfied with your first edit. You have to edit until it shines.

Keep pushing yourself until it is a great manuscript.

Now who wants to write a picture book?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.


  1. Intriguing questions about the PB manuscript. I have an idea for one and want to get kicking on it one of these days.

    Best to you with yours!

  2. Your manuscript's journey is a great example of how it's not easy. So true that it needs to "pop."


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