In just over a month I will be leading three workshops on the art of writing picture books at the Picture Book Master Class. Here is a sneak peek into each workshop so you can see how we will stretch our imaginations and expand our skills in all things picture book. Make sure you check out the giveaway on the bottom of the post!


I chose the topics carefully so that at the end of the day, we will be left with a rich assortment of strategies and ideas to implement in our own picture book projects. To get the most out of the workshops, please come ready with a notebook, several stories-in-progress and an assortment (10 or so) of picture books to use as mentor texts. Scissors and tape might also come in handy. We’ll be looking at our stories as well as mentor texts during our break-out sessions. Now without further fuss, the fun stuff!

PACING, PAGE TURNS, AND PICTURE CLUES:  Tips to Make Our Stories POP!

For our first workshop, we’ll investigate the picture book/board book formats. How do they differ?  What do they mean in terms of our storytelling?  And what are the best practices for mastering these formats?   The answers lie in pacing our stories effectively, mastering our use of page turns, and letting the illustrations help with the storytelling.

As you prepare for this workshop, take some time to read through several picture books. For each one, think about how the authors pace their stories.  Do they have similar amounts of text on each page? Do they vary the sentence lengths to either speed up or slow down the action at various points?  Does the text itself have a strong story arc?  And what about the page turns?  How are those used?  And how do the illustrations add to the sense of excitement for the reader, making us want to turn the page?


These are the kinds of things we will be delving into in this workshop.  Plus we’ll be paginating our own stories!  (Scissors and tape will be part of the fun.)


SCAFFOLDS AND SKELETONS: Making the Most of Different Story Structures 

In our second workshop we’ll turn to a favorite topic of mine- skeletons! I’m not talking about the ones in your closet.  I’m talking about the various frameworks that picture book authors use to structure their stories. As a writer, how do you know which structure to use?  Do some structures work better for some stories than for others?  How do you choose the right structure for your particular work-in-progress?

Laura used a cumulative structure in her picture book GOODNIGHT, ARK

To gain better insight into this topic, we will examine several popular “skeletons” including classic narrative, cumulative, circular, journey, abc/counting, parallel and mirror.  We’ll pair each structure with at least one mentor text and then spend time looking at the strengths and pitfalls of each structure.  The purpose of all this?  To help us, as writers, choose the best structures for our particular stories.  


MORE CHEESE, PLEASE: Creating Rhyming Picture Books That Pass the Sniff Test

In our final workshop we’ll be taking a close hands-on look at six essential tips for writing rhyming picture books.  These are the tricks that I’ve learned over the years and, if you let them, they can transform your writing. I don’t want to give too much away, but here’s a little taste of the first tip:


Rhyming Tip #1: Cheese doesn’t taste good on a cookie. Translation: Not all stories are meant to rhyme.Hint: Rhyming MIGHT Work if the:

  • Story is __________________________.
  • Story is __________________________.
  • Story is __________________________..
  • Story is __________________________..

So, what do you think?  When is rhyme acceptable for a picture book?  Come with your best guesses and let’s see if we’re on the same cookie, er I mean page!

Can you guess what structure Laura used in Little Ewe? Counting?
Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of five picture books including the best-selling Goodnight, Ark (Zonderkidz), which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Goodnight, Manger(Zonderkidz); Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse (Sterling Children’s Books), which won First Honor Book for the 2019 Best in Rhyme Award; Love Is Kind (Zonderkidz), which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book; and Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep new this spring with Beaming Books. She’s excited to be able to share that her board book Bunny Finds Easter will debut in 2022. In addition to books, she’s published over one hundred poems, stories, crafts, and articles in various children’s publications.

MASTER CLASS INFORMATION

The Write2Ignite Virtual Picture Book Master Class will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, April 24, 2021 via the ZOOM platform. Along with your Zoom access link you will also receive an invitation and link to a practice Zoom session on Thursday April 22, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. EST. here to register. Click here to submit your payment. Click here for the schedule.

We look forward to having you join us!

GIVEAWAYS

Laura’s publisher is giving away a copy of the books pictured below. In the comments, please indicate which title you would like; we try to honor requests but can’t guarantee it. To enter, leave a comment by Wednesday, March 24 at 6 PM with your email address. To qualify you must have a U.S. addresses that is not a PO Box.

9 comments

  1. I like all of her work and have no preference. I think she has mastered her art and can’t wait to learn from her. Theresa Parker Pierce

  2. Although I can’t afford to attend at this time, I would love to win the book “Love is Kind” Thank you.

  3. Is the offer only for those who sign up for this conference? It is not the type of writing I am pursuing, but I appreciate picture books and like the titles/looks of your books. My daughter is studying to be an early elementary teacher and is always seeking good books for her in-room library. If I am eligible, I would be interested in Love Is Kind. Thank you!

    1. Joy, thanks for writing. No, you don’t need to be coming to the conference to have your name in the giveaway. I’ll add your name.

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