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The next Children's Writer's World post will be on June 15th.

March 15, 2017

Three Tips to Help Your Picture Book Come to Life

Illustrator Alison Lyne has amazing advice for picture book writers. 

Add in Action Words

One of the first things I look for, when I'm reading a PB manuscript is “action” words.  I look to see just what the main character is actually doing....even if I don't know what that character actually looks like...yet. Based on those action words, I begin to  sketch out  that character. This sheet is a sample of my process for Little Things Aren't Little When You're Little.


Leave a bit of Space in your PB Writing


One of the second things I look at in a manuscript is points in the story that I can add in my “take” on a story. In Petite Rouge, A Cajun Twist to an Old Tale, (a Little Red Riding Hood tale with a swamp instead of a woods and a gator instead of a wolf) I found a bit of “room” in story to inject my reasoning why a little girl wouldn't recognize that her grandma was a monster. My solution was the gator had bounced the near-sighted little girl's red glasses right off her nose. Petite Rouge just couldn't SEE the monster.


Check the Flow of your Story

Finally, I look at how the story flows. I do that with a book chart of the pages that are in a 32 page picture book. When you flip thru a picture book, you always have a two page spread open in front of you, at any given time. Those pages are shown linked together. Stagger your emphasis to encourage your reader to “turn that page”.

Try these three tips to help you visualize how your picture book story will come to life.



March 1, 2017

Dark Humor

When you write for children ages  3 - 6, the poem or story should entertain and delight. Fictional pieces should not frighten very young children, even if the piece is told in jest. Parents may appreciate the humor, but a child might get upset or be confused.

For instance, I received a story for Kid's Imagination Train about a young person who had invited a group of animals over for a play date.  This is a cute idea and the writer was off to a good start. The piece was lively and amusing.  But towards the end of the story, the mood got dark.  The more ferocious animals began to eye the other harmless animals. Do you see where this is going?  Yep, the vicious animals ate the defenseless animals—bones, fur, scales and wings and all. 

If handled delicately, dark humor may work for young kids.  However, this kind of humor is usually better suited for an older audience.  If you want to write a piece like this, you should find a publication whose audience ranges from 8 - 12 years old.  You can find out if an editor publishes this kind of humor by reading some back issues of the magazine. And, you can query the editor to find out if she would be interested in such a story before you submit it.  

Always remember your audience when you are writing for kids.  If you want to write for very young children, keep the writing lighthearted and playful. But if you want to create scary, then make sure these kinds of stories end up in the hands of older readers.