How to Write a Picture Book
|October 10, 2011||Posted by Darcy Pattison under 11Ways|
DUAL AUDIENCE FOR CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS
by Darcy Pattison
Because I write children’s picture books and have won “The Help” Children’s Story Contest with my story, “11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph”, I am often asked for advice about writing a picture book.
One of the first things to understand is the audience for a children’s picture book. Is it parents or kids?
THE CHILD AS AUDIENCE
When you write a picture book, you must remember that the audience is a child, so the story should be of interest to them. Unless it is a folk or fairy tale, characters are usually children. Rarely do adult characters or inanimate objects as characters make successful picture books.
Yes, I know about SpongeBob and Veggie Tales. But those stories really shouldn’t work. Really? A talking tomato? A sponge with an attitude? Only the most skilled writers can pull this off and usually not in a picture book. It takes video, with its moving features and accompanying voice to characterize inanimate things well.
Doubleday editor, Francoise Bui says, “It’s preferable to have a young child as protagonist, or an animal. It needs to be someone who the child reader can relate to.”
THE ADULT AS AUDIENCE
However, adults are the gatekeepers for childrens’ access to picture books. For the youngest child, an adult reads to them and you must remember this as you write.
Adult/child relationship. Australian writer Mem Fox says it’s important to keep in mind “the child in the lap,” in other words, the relationship between the adult and the child as you write the story. For example, include something that will make the child turn to the adult and give them a hug.
Can the adult stand to read this 100 times? Favorite books are often requested nightly by a child, so you must consider if the adult can stand it “one more time.” As you write, pay attention to how easily the words flow.
Adult needs/uses for children’s literature. Remember that often the adult is a teacher, who uses picture books to fulfill something in the education curriculum. This shouldn’t be the major concern, but if you can tie it into a curriculum need, it will help sell your picture book. For example, The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman is used in social studies for map work, and in Language Arts to teach letter writing.
All My Advice in One Place
Need more on how to write, revise and market a children’s illustrated picture book? I’ve put my best advice into an eBook for you. Here’s the Table of Contents.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PICTURE BOOK BASICS
- PICTURE BOOK STRUCTURE: WHY 32 PAGES?
- Does EPUB Change the 32-page Illustrated Picture Book?
- DUAL AUDIENCE FOR CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK
- PICTURE BOOK SETTINGS: EXOTIC V. FAMILIAR
- CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK CHARACTERS: FOLK TALE OR MODERN STORY?
PICTURE BOOK GENRES
- HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S ABC BOOK
- HOW TO WRITE A READ ALOUD FRIENDLY BOOK
- HOW TO WRITE A RHYMING PICTURE BOOK, PART 1
- HOW TO WRITE A RHYMING PICTURE BOOK, PART 2
- RHYMING PICTURE BOOK BIBLIOGRAPHY
- HOW TO WRITE A POETRY COLLECTION PICTURE BOOK
- HOW TO WRITE A PICTURE BOOK MYSTERY
- HOW TO WRITE A HUMOROUS PICTURE BOOK
- HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY
- HOW TO WRITE A CREATIVE NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK
WRITE A PICTURE BOOK
- GOOD WRITING: THE BASICS
- PLOTTING A PICTURE BOOK
- PLAN YOUR FIRST DRAFT
- 17 PICTURE BOOK TOPICS TO AVOID
- 10 SUGGESTED DIRECTIONS FOR TITLES
- DID YOU WRITE A PICTURE BOOK OR MAGAZINE ARTICLE?
- LET’S MAKE A DUMMY OR A MOCK-UP OF YOUR PICTURE BOOK
- FROM SHAKESPEARE: 2 WAYS TO LOOK AT PICTURE BOOK STRUCTURE
- REVISING YOUR PICTURE BOOK TEXT
- 5 WAYS TO MAKE THE READER TURN THE PAGE
- PHONICS FOR PICTURE BOOK WRITERS
- CREATE A COMPELLING VOICE FOR A PICTURE BOOK
- PAGE 32: THE LAST PAGE OF A PICTURE BOOK
SUBMIT YOUR PICTURE BOOK
- THE SELF-PUBLISHING QUESTION
- THE BIGGEST MISTAKE YOU CAN MAKE IN SUBMITTING A PICTURE BOOK
- THE ILLUSTRATOR DOESN’T TELL YOU WHAT TO DO
- TITLES AND SUBTITLES SELL YOUR WORK
- HOW DO I FIND AN EDITOR’S NAME FOR SUBMISSION?
APPENDIX: BONUS WORKSHEETS
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