I’m a fairly traditional writer. So making the transition into picture books has been difficult. Not because my writing is bad but because picture books are more than just the words. In picture books I have to leave room for art.
You can check out another post on book structure HERE.
When I say I’m leaving room for art I’m not saying that I leave things out but that I’m making some things into notes for the artist. I do not say what my characters look like or what the landscape is, in fact I leave out as much description as possible. Why? I want the illustrator to bring their creative game to the book. I don’t want to micro manage all the details because they will have better ideas than I will, gasp!
What I do make into notes are transitions are things that impact the plot that are not in my words.
- A transition in time/place that isn’t clear from the words alone.
- An incoming character that is known and will not need a second introduction through words.
- Action that isn’t in words which directly affects the plot.
I’d challenge you to go through your story and highlight all the areas where you’re making a transition, reintroducing a character, or telling action instead of showing it. See if you can make these into art notes for the illustrator to capitalize on in the pictures.
A final note on how to format your art note. Write it like this after your sentence:
[Art Note: add info] OR [Illustration Note: add info]
Hope these thoughts help as you keep editing your picture books. I’m currently working through an old story that I love but is sitting at 800 words. Now with my art notes and a judicious eye for cutting extras I’m down to 515 words after the first round. You can do this!
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