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Writing Picture Books

A hands-on guide for authoring picture books from story creation to publication.
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Writing Picture Books
A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication
by Ann Whitford Paul
Writer's Digest Books, 2009
ISBN 13: 978-1-58297-556-6
ISBN 10: 1-58297-556-6
Price US $16.99, 256 pages

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Read an Excerpt!

Learn how to create solid foundation for your story in Chapter 2: Building a Frame for Your Story House

View a Bibliography of books recommended by the author

About the Book
Writing picture books takes a unique set of skills. After all, you only have thirty-two pages to bring your story life for readers age two to eight and the adults in their lives. Your text must be tightly focused yet leave room for illustrations to tell part of the story. And of course picture books should be a joy to read aloud.

In Writing Picture Books, awarding-winning author Ann Whitford Paul helps you develop the skills you need by walking you through techniques and exercises specifically for picture book writers. You’ll find:

• Instruction on generating ideas, creating characters, point of view, beginnings and endings, plotting, word count, rhyme, and more
• Unique methods for using poetic techniques to enrich your writing and make your manuscript sing
• Hands-on revision exercises (get out your scissors, tape, and highlighters) to help you identify problems and improve your picture book manuscripts
• Tips on researching the picture book market and approaching publishers

Whether you’re just starting out as a picture book writer or have tried unsuccessfully to get your work published in the past, Writing Picture Books is just what you need to craft picture books that will appeal to young readers and parents, agents and editors.

About the Author
Ann Whitford Paul became inspired to write picture books after years of bedtime reading to her four children. She writes picture books, poetry and early readers. Her books have won numerous awards and recognition including a place on The New York Times Notable Books List, Carl Sandburg Award for Children’s Literature, Bank Street College Best Books list, Notable Science and Social Studies Books, National Parenting Centers “Seal of Approval,” and Recognition of Merit from the George C. Stone Center for Children’s Books of the Claremont Graduate University, and they’ve been nominated for numerous state reading awards.

When not busy typing at her computer or teaching picture book writing at UCLA Extension, Ann can most often be found taking a long walk. Her hobbies include cooking, quilting, and knitting. She also loves to watch spiders spin their webs, snails paint their trails, and cats play with yarn.

She lives in Los Angeles and hopes you’ll check out her Web site at

Table of Contents

Before You Write Your Story
Chapter 1: Becoming a Picture Book Scholar

Early Story Decisions
Chapter 2: Building a Frame for Your Story House
Chapter 3: Telling Your Story—Part One
Chapter 4: Telling Your Story—Part Two
Chapter 5: Telling Your Story—Part Three
Chapter 6: Darlings, Demons, or a Mixture of Both—Creating Compelling Characters

Structure of Your Story
Chapter 7: Diving Into Your Story
Chapter 8: Baiting With a Sharp Hook—Creating a Fabulous First Line
Chapter 9: Three-Act Structure and Basic Plotting
Chapter 10: Holding Your Story Together
Chapter 11: Does Your Story Make It to the End?

Language of Your Story
Chapter 12: Two S’s of Strong Writing
Chapter 13: Rhyme Time
Chapter 14: Making Music With Your Prose
Chapter 15: The Importance of Word Count

Tying Together Loose Story Ends

Chapter 16: Grabbing the Reader With a Great Title
Chapter 17: Cut and Paste—Making a Dummy Book

After Your Story Is Done

Chapter 18: Sharing Your Story
Chapter 19: Becoming a Detective—Researching the Market
Chapter 20: Priming Your Idea Pump
Chapter 21: When the Dream Turns Into Reality—Selling Your Manuscript

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