How to Write Your First Picture Book in Five Steps
Step 1: Read
Read a number of picture books published within the last five years to get a sense of the market and the language of contemporary picture books. For suggestions, check out the list of ALA Notable Children’s Books and books from debut picture book groups, like the Picture Book Scribblers.
Step 2: Brainstorm
Think about the feelings and questions you had as a child and what you loved most about your favorite books. To kickstart your brainstorming, try joining Tara Lazar’s Storystorm for a month of brainstorming prompts!
Step 3: Develop
Pick your most interesting idea from your brainstorming session and develop your concept.
- What will today’s child reader love about this idea?
- How can I twist or push this idea further?
- Has this been done before, and how is my idea different?
Step 4: Draft
Write your first draft.
For more on this blog about writing picture books, check out:
- The 3 Most Common Reasons I Pass on Picture Books As An Agent
- Tips for Creating Child Appeal in Your Picture Books
- 9 Factors of A Successful Picture Book
- Who chooses the illustrator for picture books?
- When do you use illustration notes in a picture book manuscript?
- How can you tell if you’re using picture book language?
- Try three times and fail – a quick breakdown of traditional picture book structure
- I understand picture book structure, so what’s stopping me from getting an agent?
- Reader question: Is picture book structure for non-fiction the same as fiction?
Step 5: Revise
Find a critique group and work with other writers to polish your story. If you’re looking for a critique group, you can join SCBWI and/or look for their regional and national conferences, get involved with the Highlights Foundation to meet other writers and/or put the word out on social media that you’re looking for a critique group.
Repeat step 5 until your story shines!