I’m rereading Ann Whitford Paul’s great craft resource, Writing Picture Books, and nodding my head along the way.
One bit of advice she gives for creating texts with lots of possibilities for illustrations struck me as good overall advice for any type of fiction:
1. Write scenes with action.
2. Introduce new characters into the story.
3. Move characters into different settings.
4. Change the emotional intensity of a scene.
If you follow this advice when writing a picture book, you’ll give your illustrator a lot to work with, but you’ll also make the story dynamic and interesting. And really, don’t we want those qualities in any kind of story? I’ll certainly be chanting these four “rules” to myself as I start drafting my next project.
She also talks about the importance of page turns in picture books that I thought translated well to chapter endings in longer stories:
We motivate the reader to turn the page with an unanswered question, the placement of the main character in an uncomfortable situation, having the character take action so the outcome is in doubt, or simply a curiosity about what will happen next.
What’s your favorite bit of advice for writing picture books?