How to Utilize Book Structure

When you hear the words picture book, what comes to mind? A book with pictures? Me too. But picture books are so much more than the words and pictures, there is also the book itself. When you go to revise your story think about these different elements and see if any of them are a good fit for your blossoming story.

  • Page turns- In a small story like a picture book when the page turns it’s like a cliff hanger, a mini chapter break if you think about it in adult book terms. While you won’t be able to dictate the page turns to your publisher you should think it out, even make a dummy if it helps you visualize the turns.
  • The gutter- This is the seam of the book, how do your pictures and even character relate to that space. It can be like an intentional barrier if you want. Think about it.
  • Flaps & Accordions- Specialty or novelty publishers can add all sorts of flaps or flip outs into your story. This increases the space for illustrations and adds potential for new drama within the story.
  • Illustrations- As a picture book there are going to be pictures, but what kind? What style of art? What kinds of colors? What absence of color? You won’t get final say but the more you look at the pictures the more you’ll get a feel for what would tell your story best.
  • Readability- Read it aloud. Everyone else is going to and the melody of voice is as important as the pictures. The books that my kids want to read again and again are like the bard’s songs of old. It has to ring.
  • Sizing- The size of the book itself and the pages can change your market for your story. Larger books do better at libraries, especially for story time. While smaller books promote closeness and bedtime snuggles. Think about who is going to be holding your book and in what setting.
  • End papers- The back of the cover and inside of the back are often blank white and overlooked. This is an opportunity to add additional back matter information or even show a transformation from beginning to end.
  • Audience- The age range on picture books is large for the developmental levels kids go through. You can have a two year old holding your book or an eight year old. Totally different markets and still a picture book. Think about what age range you are writing for and the length of book you want to do. Some specialty publishers can print pages in any denomination of four.

All this is to show the options available are so much more than the words or pictures. You should consider each of these aspects in order to craft the best version of your story.

Happy Questing!

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