Think Pictures!

One more tip for picture book writers: Think pictures!  When writing text, be sure the concept/story provides ample opportunity for visual variety.     

Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2003

The author concentrates on action and dialogue, with little written description–a few lines of description spaced throughout the story to add richness to the text or trigger scenes for the artist. The illustrator conveys the details: the passengers on the crowded bus, the vegetables in the fall garden. Sometimes the pictures tell the story, with very few words.

Eve Bunting says that she sees her story moving like slides as she writes it. I’ve tried this as I rewrite. I check my text: are there enough different visual scenes/possibilities to sustain 28 pages or 14 double page spreads? What words are necessary to tell the story and what words can be converted to pictures.

Warning: Unless you’re the illustrator, don’t get attached to your images. Your illustrator’s expertise is to interpret your story in a brand-new, wonderful way. I had good luck–Elisabeth Moseng’s illustrations for Soccer Beat far surpassed my own imaginings.                   

If an editor says “too slight,” the manuscript doesn’t have enough text or visual images to make a 28 page picture book.

To space your text out and visualize text and images for a 28 page pic book, make a dummy. Here’s a link for how to make one:


About Sandra Brug Children's Author

Children's writer, poet, and children's librarian.
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