I confess to owning a sizeable selection. Some are finished, some are not. Plenty have been flicked through – all with great, grand intentions. But the one that reached out to me, that held my attention and grabbed hold of my imagination, was Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books.
My copy of Writing Picture Books is always within reach. It’s filled with brightly coloured sticky notes and is often referred to – both as a source of inspiration and for more practical tips.
The style and tone is both informative and personal as Ann begins with her own tale of countless rejection letters from editors whom she assumed simply must be wrong. Haven’t we all assumed that?! But, as most writers finally discover…
‘Completing a draft of your story is not the end of the writing process. It is only the beginning.’
And so Writing Picture Books takes the would-be picture book writer by the hand and guides them through this process. It encourages careful, timely revision helping writers to build a more objective approach to the polishing of their craft.
Writing Picture Books is divided in to helpful, logical sections which guide you through the process of honing your own picture book writing skills. The first, and one of the most important, is looking at picture books from a different perspective – from that of a writer. Look at the how, and why, behind what seems to work so effortlessly. Consider the child’s perspective. Always. Respect your young audience. Know children – what they like, how they see the world.
From here Ann guides us through point of view, followed by an entire chapter dedicated to the all important voice. Crucial.
A large comprehensive section is dedicated to structure – how to develop your character, how to handle varied action, then build to the crucial ending.
For me a stand-out features of Writing Picture Books was the wide range of activities and prompts, the constant reminder to read, READ, read picture books, and finally the guidance on what to do next. I wouldn't be without my copy.
Emma Perry is a picture book writer represented by Bell Lomax Moreton. She is the founder of MyBookCorner and organiser of International Book Giving Day.
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