Writing Picture Storybooks

Everyone’s story matters.
— William Joyce

First, figure out what you want to write about. This might actually be the hardest part of the process. I’ve had the idea for this book for well over 14 years now and I have a few others that I will be working on soon. You don’t have to wait that long. I will explain how to get it done sooner. Here are some tips to spark an idea:

  1. Talk to children. Especially the age range you are targeting. Find out how their day is and what’s on their mind. Really get into a deep conversation. You’ll be surprised how intelligent they are.
  2. Read books that interests you or books you think you want to write about.
  3. Think about stories you’ve heard in the past that still resonate with you until this day. I chose to bring a Lao folktale to life; It brought many memories of the time spent with my father, who is a great story teller and teacher.
  4. Go to plays, movies, and read, read, read, read.
  5. Ideas can come from anywhere, carry a small notebook with you to jot them down.

Do the research

Once you have your idea, lets start by doing some research. This might not be the most elegant part of the process but it will help you to narrow your ideas down. A lot of the great fictions are based on reality. The main thing is to make your world believable. Have some frame of reference. The more you research about your subject, the better and grounded your story will be.

Work on the story

This is the most important part of the book. Without a story, you have no book. We’ll now begin by structuring your story. There are three types of story structure (classical, minimal and surreal) but we’ll talk about one.

The classical structure is the most widely used in fiction. Classical story structure gives audiences the greatest emotional response. It has been proven through thousands of years of literature. Classical stories usually show a change in the character or the character has learned something new. In children’s books, however, this could be subtle. The main thing to keep in mind is to entertain first. Most professional writers will tell you to show and not tell. Be descriptive as possible and don’t preach.

To me, I believe there is only one kind of story. A hero on a “quest” stories are the most basic to write. The high level outline I use for this is “hero” wants “something” but “thing” get in the way. The “hero” could be anything or anyone you want to be. The “thing” is the conflict, problem, or antagonist trying to prevent the “hero” to get what they want which is “something”, generically speaking. But you get the idea.

When you understand this basic “hero on a quest” principle, your story will pretty much fall into place. Without this solid foundation, your story will fall flat and most likely not be very interesting. I will get into more character development in the next posts. For now, these high level tips will help you get started.

Good luck!

Nor Sanavongsay