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 I am doing research on things to know when doing a picture book and for anyone interested, here are my notes plus the links from which I got the information.
Suggestions about picture books:

– 32 page standard layout

– Text of a picture book should be short: no more than 500-1000 words

– Standalone pages or 2 page spread where a specific message is shared between two pages.

– 4-5 pages for then has 27-28 to carry  title page, a half-title page, and a copyright page

– The typical picture book should be aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 6.

– Submit content to cover 27 pg. manuscript pgs. in standard manuscript format.

– When writing text, you’ll leave visual details to the illustrator

– Unless it is a folk or fairy tale, characters are usually children

– The text per page is rarely more than a paragraph consisting of three to five lines.

– Book character needs to be someone who the child reader can relate to.

– Format the text in block paragraph style, with each block representing a page.

– Follow each text block with a parenthetical. The text within the parenthetical should direct the reader (an editor) to the illustration that will accompany the text. Example: (Illus. 1). Be sure that each of your illustrations is labeled accordingly.

– Writing about things that interest them and writing from their perspective.

– Can the adult stand to read this 100 times?

– Tie book into a curriculum need, it will help sell your picture book

– Plot what want more than anything

Complication 1

Complication 2

Complications 3

Climax / Resolution

– Editors prefer character-driven plots.

– Your picture book must flow straight from beginning to end. You don’t have the space for flashbacks or subplots. Omit characters who only play bit parts.

– Does the main character solve the problem? (No fair bringing in parents, adults, older siblings, etc.)

Do the complications get worse and worse, building to a climax?

Does the character actually want/fear something?

Have you provided the most interesting, least clichéd complications possible? (Or at least done the clichéd things in the most interesting vocabulary possible?

-Your breakdown might look like this:

Introduce character and problem: 3 spreads

First attempt to solve problem and failure/complication: 3 spreads

Second attempt and failure/complication: 3 spreads

Third attempt and success: 3 spreads

Resolution: 2 spreads

– Story there must be a main character who has a conflict or problem that is introduced in the beginning, dealt with in the middle, and resolved by the main character toward the end of the middle (at the “climax” or “black moment”) and ends with the main character having grown or learned some lesson.

– You can tell readers a lot about a character by the name you choose

– make your writing dance is through onomatopoeia, or sound words. Which would you rather read about?

A horse prancing clippity clop?

Or a horse walking down the road?

– It is important that your story reads well aloud, that it has a lovely flow and rhythm. Hence, sentences should be short and easy to understand.

– Repetition of a sentence (or sentences) is popular in picture books as it adds to the rhythm and children enjoy joining in.

– Try to stretch the setting, yet keep something familiar.

– Use alliteration in the title (Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day) or in the text. Alliteration creates a humorous cadence. It’s attention-getting as well as an excellent method of exploring sounds

– Encourage the reader to turn pages. One page-turning enticement is to use ellipsis (three dots . . .). Partially write a sentence, use the dots, and finish the sentence on the following page. Combine the ellipsis with transition words such as and . . . then . . . but.

– Cut in Picture Book Text in Half to help cut out unessentials from the text.

– The last page of a picture book is a left-hand single page. Consider ways to use this last chance to connect with the readers.

– Readandreadandreadandread to learn as many different ways of using language as possible.

–  It’s useful to make your own mock-book, copying from a real book

– Put it away for a week or two, even a month. This distance will allow you to return to it with fresh eyes

– Read as many books as possible of the same kind as you have written yourself.

– Look at who publishes books you like. Research those publishers on the net.

– Read as many good books on the craft of writing as possible, especially in the genre you in which you want to write.

– Read as many books as possible in the genre in which you wish to write.

– Be persistent. It is not easy to have a manuscript accepted.



Picture Book Structure: http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/picture-book-standards-32-pages/

So you want to write a picture book… : http://www.memfox.com/so-you-want-to-write-a-picture-book.html

Putting the Picture in Picture Books: http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/putting-the-picture-in-picture-books/

TIPS FOR WRITING A SUCCESSFUL PICTURE BOOK: http://www.dlstewart.com/picbooktips.htm

The Dual Audience for Picture Books: http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/the-dual-audience-for-picture-books/

Check Your Picture Book’s Story Arc: http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/check-your-picture-books-story-arc/

Picture Book Settings: http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/picture-book-settings/

Writing Picture books: http://www.marisamontes.com/writing_picture_books.htm

How to write a picture book: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/27-FE2-HowToWritePictureBook.html

Writing Children’s Books: http://www.robynopie.com/articles/writingforchildren_howtowritepicturebooks.htm

How to Write Picture Book Manuscripts: http://www.ehow.com/how_6947842_write-picture-book-manuscripts.html

How to : Format a Manuscript for a Children’s Book Editor and Agent: http://www.ehow.com/how_5922491_format-children_s-book-editor-agent.html#ixzz2Pugo6kYK

Publishers’ Guidelines for Writing Children’s Books:http://www.ehow.com/way_5317437_publishers-guidelines-writing-childrens-books.html#ixzz2PuhMvVAa

How to Format Your Manuscript: http://www.ehow.com/video_4970930_format-manuscript.html

How to Write a Book Manuscript: http://www.ehow.com/video_4974749_write-book-manuscript.html

Twenty Tips for Writing Picture Books: http://www.leeandlow.com/p/20tips.mhtml

Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children’s books: http://www.underdown.org/


6 Responses to Temporary content and is frequently updated:

  1. Ceil DeYoung says:

    Thanks so much Melva.

    • admin says:

      My pleasure. More will come from all the other notes I’ll be typing up from this and past symposiums. Most of the time it will show up on Wednesday and sometimes Friday and sometimes….

  2. Krys says:

    Thanks, Melva. This is exactly what I wanted.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your feedack. I’m glad it was helpful.
      There are more notes I’ll be typing up when I listen to some more recordings.
      Other panels I took notes are also listed on the Wednesday Blogs Rock Soup. Please check them out when you have the time.

  3. canda mortensen says:

    Great notes, Melva

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