I look back to when I was an aspiring author, smile and ask myself “how did I ever manage to get published?” Apart from being able to string a few words together I knew nothing about the business of becoming published. Yet somehow I managed to become a published picture book writer. However if I knew then what I know now my journey would have been a shorter one. So to reduce the length of your journey here are my top ten writing tips for writing a story a commissioning editor will hopefully love.
If you get the chance to study poetry, even a short workshop, then go for it. A picture book writer can learn a lot from studying poetry and use that knowledge to add that little extra to their stories.
When writing be aware of your audience and use appropriate words. Don’t use ‘grown up’ or long words when short will do.
Learn from published authors by reading, reading and reading some more. As you read question how the author has constructed the story, how they make you want to turn the pages, how they use words etc.
Break down your story into spreads and think of them as scenes in a play. Ask yourself is there something new happening on every page? Have you given the illustrator something to work with? Does the new scene move the story forward? If the answer to any of these is no then you need to have a rethink.
Get your characters talking as soon as possible. Let them tell the story in their own words. It is there story after all.
Try using repetition in your story. Repetition provides a hook, something for your readers to listen out for, to anticipate. Repetition allows them to join in with the story and become part of your characters journey.
Try to include the five senses in your descriptions. What does something smell like, feel like, sound like, look like and taste like? This will allow your reader to connect with the action on the page.
Everyone loves to laugh, so if appropriate include a little humour. This can be in your use of words, the illustrations or perhaps even both.
Have a go at using the magic number three in your story. Think Goldilocks and The Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Three Little Pigs.
I hope these tips help and good luck with your writing.