Write the First Draft of a Picture Book

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Write a Story

To write the first draft of a picture book text, just write a story. That’s is. Just like you would normally write any story. Keep in mind that you want it to be short and you’ll leae visual details to the illustrator, but, otherwise, write the story.

Don’t Worry About These 3 Things

  • Vocabulary. Picture book vocabulary doesn’t have to be limited, because usually an adult is reading the story to a child. Don’t limit yourself on this first draft.
  • Style. Just relax and write.
  • Length. Remember you’re writing a picture book, which implies you’ll write short. But how short doesn’t matter much on this first draft, unless you go over 10 typed double-spaced pages. Just write.
  • ACTION POINTS

    Write.

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    3 Comments
    • Elaine Costanzo
      January 20, 2013

      Mem Fox simply writes 2 lines, double spaces, then writes 2 lines, double spaces , etc. A picture book then ends up being only with text on just one page when submitted. This seems easy. Is this how it’s done. Thanks.

    • Don Moser
      May 31, 2013

      Hello Ms. Pattison,

      I am 26 year old Don Moser of Long Beach, Ca. I first want to thank you for your wonderful blog posts you have on writing children’s books for beginners such as myself, and wish you nothing but continued success in the future.

      You may have guessed that I have all sorts of questions regarding this new genre I am entering, and that is correct. However, I have one question in particular if I may trouble you.

      I have written a children’s book that has been edited, copyrighted, and is currently getting illustrated. My question is, what do I do next? I would assume that I contact some publishers and shop my idea to them. Is this the right path? Should I get it made and distributed by myself? If so, where would one go to have such things done?

      I want to thank you for your time and blog posts once again, they are truly inspiring. I look forward to your response and am anxiously awaiting any feedback you may have for me.

    • Darcy Pattison
      June 3, 2013

      Hi!
      So glad the the posts have helped you with your children’s picture book. Did you read about the biggest mistake that people make in submitting a picture book manuscript: http://www.darcypattison.com/?p=461 The fact that you are having it illustrated is a red flag! Usually the publisher wants to choose the illustrator. So, back up, if you can. Sell the manuscript to a publisher first, and let them worry about the illustrations.

      To find a publisher, look in the current Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, the CWIM, which is like a phone directory and lists publishers names, contact and many important details. Also, consider joining the Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org).

      Good luck!
      Darcy