First-time authors believe that writing children’s books is easy-peasy and does not require that much skills. The truth, however, is that it takes a lot of skills to present a story in just a few words. So before you begin writing picture books, here are the three crucial tips you need to remember as a children’s book writer:
1. Keep things simple.
You are writing for kids so keep everything simple. Avoid being too detailed. You are only allowed to present the plot of the book in three sentences. Write one sentence for the beginning – this involves naming the main character and the conflict he will be dealing with. Use another sentence for the middle – this includes describing the character’s efforts to solve the conflict. For the end sentence, present how the character achieves his goal. If you fail to present the plot in three sentences then it is likely that the book is too complex to be considered a picture book.
2. Think in pictures.
Kids are drawn to pictures. Children’s books are also called picture books because the pictures are just as important as the texts. An average picture book will have 32 pages, four pages of which will be the front matter such as the title page, copyright page, etc. This leaves you 28 pages of illustration and words. The average length of picture books is 1000 words, so this will give you 36 words per page. Depending on the story, some pages will have more words than the others.
When writing the draft, keep in mind that you have to put a different illustration in every page. So from your manuscript, count out 36 words and be aware of the size of the text on the page. That will let you know how many words you can use for each illustration. Also, let your characters do something such as change location in order for the illustrator to come up with a new picture to draw.
Note: Some illustrations will require two facing pages. This is referred to as a two-page spread. In this case, you have about 70 words for that illustration. However since picture books are a combination of single page illustrations and two-page spreads, just make sure to keep the story at a good, steady pace.
3. Have a childlike perspective
Characters of picture books can be children, animals, adults, or even fantasy beings. Just make sure that the main characters reflect the sensibilities and innocence of a child between the ages of 4-8. What does this mean? The conflict that your characters faces must be relevant to your target audience. How your character deals with that problem must be similar to the way a child tackles it. Creating an adult main character to impose adult wisdom on your audience is not the right way to go. However, you can write grown-up characters using the illogical, emotional, and sometimes messy coping techniques of children. Also, let the character solve the conflict through the use of methods accessible to children. If you let your readers identify themselves with your main character, then they will understand the message of your story.