There is just something about a well-written picture book that draws in both adults and children. Just seeing your childhood favorite can invoke memories and emotions surrounding your positive experiences with that book. Because of the power that good picture books have, it can be hard to learn to write them effectively. Many an author makes the attempt and misses the mark, leading to rejection and disappointment. However, if you follow these handy tips, you can be more likely to learn to write appealing and publishable picture books.
Pay Attention to Structure
Just because a good deal of the impact of your book will be in the illustrations doesn't mean that you don't have to put forth solid writing for the text. In fact, the publisher will base their decisions almost entirely on the quality of your manuscript- most picture books are illustrated later by an in-house artist. You need a strong plot and fully developed characters. While you can leave out things such as character description and physical surroundings, as they will be illustrated, you still need a good story line, complete with conflict that is happily resolved. Remember that picture books are geared towards younger children that need clear resolution.
Length Makes a Difference
By their nature, picture books are meant to be read aloud. There is a certain format that should be used when you learn to write them, including the ideal number of pages. Many picture books are formatted to include about 28 pages of text, so keep that in mind. You should also shoot for around 1,000 words, making each word count. It's also important to pay close attention to the length of sentences and the way the story reads. Read it aloud as you compose, and have a friend read it for you as well. This will allow you to check yourself on not only length, but readability.
Create a Mood
When you learn to write, there are plenty of things to think about. Picture books seem ridiculously easy; however, they are actually one of the hardest genres to break into. What seems simple actually is filled with details and nuances that can be hard to fake. One of the small things that makes a big difference is the mood of your picture book. This is the feeling that is created as the reader browses through the text and pictures. As an author, you have to create enough of the mood, with words alone, that a publisher will take note. Remember, pictures are added after the fact. Decide if you want the book to have a tender or silly mood, and stay consistent.
What About Rhyme
There probably isn't an author that has ever lived that wasn't a huge fan of Dr. Seuss, the classic master of rhyme. One of the reasons that he was so successful was because he stood above the crowd. Rhyme can either work perfectly, or it is a huge mistake- there isn't a whole lot of middle ground. It is very difficult to add rhyme to a picture book and still be able to keep all the other essential balls in the air that create a solid story. When you learn to write, feel free to experiment with rhyme, but expect a steep learning curve. As a general rule, rhyme shouldn't feel forced or distract from the plot in any way.
Finally, as we've already discussed, you will probably only be submitting the manuscript for the children's book. Most publishers have their own artists on staff that illustrate their texts for them. If you feel that some things that you envision need explaining, it's perfectly appropriate to include notes about what is supposed to be happening in the story. The artist will still take some license, but as you learn to write, you should become more familiar with what details need to be clarified to make your picture book coalesce.
By Lisa Brunel
There is more to writing children's books than you may think. If you have passion and drive to give children well thought about and well developed stories, your on the right track! Learn to write a great children's book by sigining up to our free newsletter, visit http://www.learntowriteachildrensbook.com you will find the best resources available and recommenced sites to help you achieve success as a children's author!