While browsing the shelves of Barnes and Noble in search of books on the topic of writing picture books for children, I found an excellent book written by Ann Whitford Paul. Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication is a good resource for aspiring picture book writers looking to develop their skills in picture book creation.
One technique I find very helpful was how the author presented a topic, then provided a resource in support of the topic. For example, when she talked about giving your character personality, she referred to the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? by Laura Joffe Numeroff. The author asked how would you define the personality of the mouse in the book. Then she asked you to compare the personality of the mouse with the personality of the character Grace in Karen’s Winnick’s Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers. When writing for children, she recommended making your characters childlike, like the badger in Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban.
Another helpful technique Ms. Numeroff suggested was to create a study of each main character. The author recommends five items for each of your main characters:
- Birth date and age at time of story
- Relationships with others
Refer to your character study often when revising your story. The character study will ensure your character is unique and their speech and behavior are consistent with their personality.
The author also touched on topics such as character development, tone, word count, rhythm, writing groups, publishers, book titles, and much more.
Become a better picture book writer by reading and studying picture books. But most importantly, get those story ideas out of your head and on to paper.