Getting to know your picture book

Sabrina_203

Growing up I wrote loads of poetry, and even though I haven’t written anything of that ilk for a while, it gave me a great understanding of words, rhythm, and sounds for the picture books I create now.

First of all I love creating stories. I can start with a germ of an idea, or something I’ve overheard a child say on the bus for instance; and its this simple concept that can be the most difficult to express in a picture book, mainly because there isn’t much time to get your message across.

So I wanted to share what I’ve learnt so far, with you guys out there! (Remember these numbers are just guidelines, there are always exceptions to the rule.)

Getting know your picture book

Type

*First of all know what type of Picture book do you want to make, as there are a few categories i.e Soft cover story books, Board books, Hard cover books, Novelty books, Colouring, How to, Activity books . 

Age

*Know the age group you are targeting, generally picture books typically range between 3-5 yrs old but they can go higher, with an appeal to parents as well.

1,2,3…

*Know your word-count, which should be around 600 words max, you could go up to 1000 -but I reckon the shorter the better.

Make it a page turner

*Know your pages [Especially if you’re illustrating the book yourself] Depending on the word count they can go from 16-32 pages (much, much less for 0-3 years of age.) Understanding this will help you write and surprise your reader!

Engage us

*Know your story and keep it super simple, interesting and fun!

Who do you want us to know?

*Know your character(s) Are they relatable? Multidimensional? What’s different about them?

Words and Pictures

*Know that there should be a strong marriage between the illustration and the words, e.g if the power word is SPLAT! Then the picture should express that.

Avoid getting too wordy

*Know that the story and words you choose for this audience should be memorable, it’s very easy to get all wordy wordsmith-But it’s a trap I’ve fallen into heaps of times, so take it from me, DON’T.

Knowing your audience

The picture book crowd are one of the hardest to conquer, because they’re critics like no other, there’s no explanation about why it didn’t work for them via fan mail or critic group nope, nada, zilch! They will simply walk away… Although jammy doughnuts can entice one or two kids back, take heed they most likely won’t be sticking around!

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What’s your experience when writing picture books? Would love to hear!

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