Tuesday, November 12, 2013


My attempts to enter the world of picture book writing continue. I find it both daunting and fascinating! Who knew you could pour for hours over a fairly short piece of writing - my first draft ended at about 1000 words. I've since written and rewritten it at least half a dozen times but I'm no where near satisfaction.

I have my story line and my characters and I'm learning how to make them come alive in such a short number of words. Every word counts! I've heard that said lots of times about picture books but it never really hit home until I tried to condense my story into 1000 words. I knew I was in trouble when I'd only got started and had already hit 350 words! This is  what I'm finding out . . .

Description - don't need it. The illustrations will take care of it.

Character development - not really room. That doesn't mean your character can be flat or one dimensional. He's just not going to change a lot.

Colourful enriching vocabulary - yes! Most picture books are read aloud to kids by adults so you don't have to worry that the words are too difficult for a child to read. But they should be easily understood in context.

Probably the best thing I've done so far is check out a stack of quality picture books from the library and read and reread and reread them.

I'm learning lots but I'm still scratching the surface. I've found the book Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul useful. The other book I purchased from Amazon called How To Write a Children's Picture Book Volume 2 by Eve Bine-Stock is helpful in the beginning chapters but the second part loses me completely.

Ann Whitford lists the characteristics of kids aged two to eight years old that I think are worth repeating here:

Everything is new to children.

Children live in the present.

Children have had few experiences.

Sometimes childhood is not happy.

Children understand more than we think they do.

Children have short attention spans.

Children are self-centered.

Children long to be independent.

Children are complicated.

Children have rich imaginations.

All these are important things for me to think about as I carry on  wrestling with this fascinating, sometimes frustrating and always challenging project!

Favourite Kids Book of the Week:

Big Brown Bear's Birthday Surprise by David McPhail

This is a heart warming picture book with the wonderful characters of Big Brown Bear and Rat. It's a story of friendship at its very best. The illustrations are  charming.

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