WRITING a picture book? Where do you start? With a good idea that touches your heart.
I live beside a park. In the spring, children come to the park for soccer practice. When I see them, I have to go–To watch their feet! I wrote Soccer Beat during soccer season one year. I wanted to capture the delight I felt watching those amazing feet and I wanted to capture the exhilaration of the soccer players moving those feet.
What touches you? What makes you laugh, feel sad, makes you mad–What delights you? If we writers are not moved by our subjects, we won’t involve our readers, especially children.
Get in touch with your sense of wonder–Look, listen, feel. Write about topics kids will like by tapping into the interests you had at 4, 5, 6 years old. And try humor–Kids love it.
A key element of a picture book is the nugget of universal truth found there. A pic book has a theme, one main idea, which a child can relate to. Theme is the truth underlying your story (it’s different from plot). The theme of Where the Wild Things Are might be–Your mom will always love you, no matter what. Tap into the emotions you had as a 3-6 year old child for a theme. Fear of getting lost? Missing a parent? Devoted to a special toy? How did it feel?
As I’m writing my picture book, I ask myself: What is the universal truth my story conveys? Have I said something worth saying to a child?