Thoughts from Picture Book Peek Week #3

Picture Book Peek Week #3 brought me three highly original and beautifully written stories. And as always, I’m learning by critiquing.

Four important questions for all PB writers popped up from this Peek Week.

1. What is your story really about?
Hopefully you can answer this in one brief sentence. Then examine your text for any tangents or storylines that don’t contribute to your answer. Often we start out writing one story and it turns into another. And sometimes terrific new tales are born that way. But don’t try to force multiple stories to work together in one simple picture book. Start a new story if it’s calling you.

2. Is your story a poem or a picture book?
Examine your story arc by envisioning pictures and page turns. Then explore your story further by gauging the strength of its emotional content, character motivation and story problem. If your text is “story problem-free,” consider adding an ending with impact.

3. Is your tone consistent throughout your story?
Light and humorous. Sweet and sentimental. Serious.

4. Is your book is too teachy, too preachy or just a touch didactic?
Answer this question “Why did you write this story?” Your answer will tell you a lot about your motivation and content. If your answer is anything other than, “To write a story that kids will love,” you may want to take a closer look at your premise.

You can bet I’ll be asking these questions of my own works in progress.

Stay tuned for Picture Book Peek Week #4 coming later this fall!

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