Ten Things NOT to Do When Writing a Picture Book

by Samantha Bell

011Do you have a picture book in the works? If so, you know picture books are a lot harder to write than most people think. Whether you’re just starting to write your manuscript or are in the final stages of revision, here are some things not to do:

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

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