My husband got me some books for my birthday back in December, one of which was Ann Whitford Paul's well-known and recommended Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication. Since I'm using this as a major tool on developing my writing 'career', I've decided to journal about my progress through this book.
Ann Whitford Paul is a picture book author. She has authored several well-known titles - Hello Toes, Hello Feet; Eight Hands Round - A Patchwork Alphabet, and Fiesta Fiasco to name a few. She realizes, as do other picture book authors, that writing picture books does take a unique set of skills and a working knowledge of children and their parents!
Chapter One of Ann's book is titled 'Becoming a Picture Book Scholar'. Besides setting down the basics of picture books such as manuscript length and age ranges, Ms. Paul covers some important concepts of the average picture book audience. I enjoyed her advice to remember that children live in the present. I know myself all too well of her example of the child continuously asking, "Are we there yet?" on a long trip. This concept and knowledge of children's strong emotions, short attention spans, rich imaginations and others are important to have a grasp on when writing for children.
In addition to becoming very aware of these concepts, a picture book writer MUST be familiar with ......
Ms. Paul ends each chapter with hands-on assignments and of course the most important one for this chapter and the others is to keep reading picture books. Being a mother of a 3 1/2 year old makes this one really easy for me. Our trips to the library are frequent and well spent. We load up with 12-15 books per trip!
I've made a list of some I'd like to look for next time including an abundant amount of titles suggested by Ann Whitford Paul throughout chapter one and chapter two(I glanced ahead!). Some of those titles include: If Animals Kissed Goodnight by David Walker, Old Turtles by Douglas Wood, and Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban.
I enjoy going to the library with my little guy although sometimes it's nice to go without him so I can browse more without worrying about his whereabouts. Like I said, we usually end up with about 12-15 books but the last time we went I had a big list for us and he decided to add quite a few to the pile! I sometimes experience frustration because I usually can't find all that's on my list in one visit. I guess that's good though; it means other kids are reading!
In addition to reading about writing picture books, I've been working on several manuscripts. I actually have started three new fiction manuscripts since doing PiBoIdMo back in November and one non-fiction manuscript (that one is on an Orthodox Saint). I'm also still revising an older manuscript that I started several years ago.
I've also joined in the Start Write Challenge (which is over tomorrow) and a picture book writer's group called 12 x 12. It's on a blog by Julie Hedlund and it's focused on getting 12 PB manuscripts started in 12 months.... NOT manuscripts that are ready for submission..... 12 drafts and I think this is something I need to help me stay focused on writing. I'm sure to write more about that as time goes on. I love the forum and am hoping to form a nice strong critique group! I need critique friends!!
So I'm definitely staying busy! What are you working on??