This summer, we’re introducing a new series called In Summary, where we collect up some of our favorite posts on different craft topics. We hope you’ll click on a post or two now, and that you’ll be able to come back later when you’re struggling with a craft topic so you can find a wide range of posts by our contributors (past and present) to help you along the way.
KidLit Craft started as a blog focused on middle grade books, but since our founding, we’ve expanded into YA and picture books (and even some early readers and chapter books). Today, we’re highlighting a range of picture book posts, from an overview of picture book elements to backmatter. Enjoy!
Elements of a Picture Book
In this post, Aimee Harburjak and Kristi Wright give a top-line overview of everything you need to create a great picture book.
Character, Character, Character
A great book needs a great character–one readers can love. In the first post below, Becky Levine explores how to create a character who has agency. In the second, I share the benefits of having two contrasting characters anchor a book.
The Writing Part
Once you have characters and a basic story, you’ll have to make choices about how to tell that story. In the first post below, on a non-fiction picture book, I highlight ways to prime readers to turn pages that can work for both non-fiction and fiction. In the second post, I examine ways to incorporate the right specific details and how to write sentences that leave room for an illustrator to work their magic.
Most picture books have a problem-solution form. But a variety of picture book forms exist. Here’s one that uses a poetic form.
Endings (and Back Matter)
All stories have to end, and endings are often the trickiest part to write. In the first post below, Becky Levine explores endings that circle back to an opening scene or image and why they work so well. Then in the second post, Cathy Petter does a deep dive into back matter for non-fiction picture books.
So there you have it! KidLit Craft for Picture Books from Start to Finish. We hope you’ve found ways to expand the possibilities of your picture book manuscripts and that you’re inspired to try new things.
Anne-Marie Strohman (co-editor) writes picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult short stories and novels. She is trained as a teacher, an editor, and a scholar, specializing in Renaissance Literature. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is an active member of SCBWI. Find her at amstrohman.com and on Twitter @amstrwriter.