If you write picture books — or, really, any other kind of book — and you haven’t read Ann Whitford Paul’s excellent overview of the writing craft, then I highly recommend you get yourself to a bookstore or library and get yourself a copy!
It is packed with information, from her advice that before you start writing, you need to read, read, read, to creating characters, plotting and the basic three-act structure that most stories follow, making your writing as strong as it can be — it provides a complete breakdown of the process of writing a picture book.
Not only does she explain all the building blocks that go together to create a picture book, but she includes examples and best of all, many writing exercises at the end of each chapter that allow you to work through the steps and try for yourself whatever she has taught. When I was a kid in 4-H, we knew that we needed to “learn to do by doing” — Ann Whitford Paul knows that, too.
And, as I’ve said, much of the book can help writers for other age groups as well, although it’s geared for picture book writers. It’s really a course in writing contained in one affordable book.
Here’s the basic information about the book to help you find it:
Title: Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication
Author: Ann Whitford Paul
Publisher: Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 2009
ISBN: 9781582975566 (paperback)
Here’s a detailed review of the book from a top-notch children’s book editor, Harold Underdown (if you write for kids, and you’re not familiar with his site, this is one to bookmark!)
Here’s the Writer’s Digest page about the book, with the full table of contents and even an excerpt to read.
And here’s Ann Whitford Paul’s website (note that there’s a section of writing tips).
Happy reading! Happy writing!