How To Get Started Writing Picture Books

Writing A Picture Book

Want to learn how to get started writing picture books for children? Many beginning children’s writers think that writing picture books is easy but writing these types of books requires a tremendous amount of skill to boil a great story down into a few words.  As a writer, picture books are the starting point for the youngest of readers.  They are your first audience.  If you can write for them, you can write for anyone.


If you want to write picture books, here are some actionable tips that can help you get started writing picture books.

  1. Keep it simple – You should be able to sum up your plot in three sentences. First sentence Is for the beginning. This should tell who the main character is and what their problem or conflict. Second sentence is for the middle part. This is where we describe the efforts the main character makes to solve his problem. The final sentence shows how the main character resolves their conflict and what they learned from the experience. If you can’t sum up your story in these three sentences then your story is much too complicated to become a picture book.
  2. Concentrate on the plot and the action in the story instead of an overall theme or message. You need to construct your story which focuses on the main character, their problems and how that character changes or transforms during the story.
  3. Think visually in pictures. The illustrations are just as important as the words in your story but your words must evoke a visual picture when reading. Since you only have 28 pages of text(about 1000 words to a story or 36 words per page) and illustrations to write your story, every page must inspire a great illustration. Write visually to tell your story and allow your words to give inspiration to the illustrator so they can draw pictures that not only tell the story but enhance it.
  4. Keep the action going throughout the story. The action needs to keep a good pace or you run the risk of boring the reader. The same goes for making the action go to fast. Children need a story they can follow along that grabs their attention span and holds it for the entire book. By having a child-like outlook on the story, you will talk to the children on their level.
  5. Picture books can have human, children, adults and personification of inanimate objects as the main character but those characters must embody the nature of a 4-8 year old reader who will the story is written for. The story must be relevant to the age group you are writing for and you must avoid preaching a message and instead focus on the story.
  6. Don’t use grownup themes. Kids aren’t looking for that. They want adventure and fun. Stimulate their imaginations. You should also aim to use the emotional tendencies of the child you are writing for to tell your story. Get your child emotionally involved in the story so that they can see themselves in the characters. This creates a bond with the characters that will hook them on your story.

Using these tips will help you learn how to get started writing picture books and show you how to construct great stories.



A. J. Westin is a children's adventure book author who specializes in writing stories kids really want to read. He has written over two dozen books and has dedicated his life to helping kids become better readers through his inspirational stories.
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  1. Pingback: Should You Be Writing Picture Books? | A. J. Westin

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