Write2Ignite Picture Book Master Class with Laura Sassi

April 24, 2021, Workshop Descriptions

Laura 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 to the Zoom sessions ready with:

  • a notebook and pen
  • several stories-in-progress
  • an assortment (10 or so) of fiction picture books (published in the last five years) to use as mentor texts
  • Scissors and tape or a glue stick might also come in handy, too.

We’ll be looking at our stories as well as mentor texts during our break-out sessions. Now without further fuss, the fun stuff!


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 fiction 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?

To gain better insight into this topic, we will examine several popular skeletons:

  • Classic narrative
  • Cumulative
  • Circular
  • Journey
  • ABC/Counting
  • Parallel
  • 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 to help us 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.

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