Ten Things NOT to Do When Writing a Picture Book

011By Samantha Bell

Do you have a picture book in the works? If so, you know they are a lot harder to write than most people think. Whether you’re just starting to write your manuscript or you’re in the final stages of revision, here are some things NOT to do:

  1. Do not write down to children. Children are smarter than we think! And since picture books are designed to be shared aloud to children, vocabulary and word choice doesn’t have to match reading levels.
  2. Do not think about the words only. The illustrations are half of a picture book. The two should work together to create the story.
  3. Do not write too much dialogue. Dialogue is difficult to illustrate.
  4. Do not include too much description. Leave some room for the illustrator to work his or her magic with your manuscript.
  5. Do not have a passive main character. Your main character needs to take action!
  6. Do not have a parent or an adult resolve the conflict in the story. Your main character should be the problem-solver.
  7. Do not write stories about a dream. Endings where the main character wakes up to realize it was all of dream is often disappointing and unsatisfying to the reader.
  8. Do not forget to include all elements of the plot. It’s a picture book, and it’s short, but it still needs to be engaging.
  9. Do not send off your first draft. Or your second. Or your third. Polish it over and over until it shines!
  10. Do not give up if you receive a rejection. Keep writing and submitting!

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