Just Write!

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Your First Draft

To write the first draft of a picture book text, just write a story. That’s is. Seems easy enough right? Keep in mind that you want it to be short and you’ll leave visual details to the illustrator, but, otherwise, write the story.

There are a few things you don’t have to worry about when you are writing a first draft.

  1. Vocabulary: Picture book vocabulary doesn’t have to be limited, because usually an adult is reading the story to a child. Don’t limit yourself on this first draft, you can always “dumb” it down later.
  2. Style: Just relax and just write. The first thing I like to do when drafting a story is print out my FREE Storyboard Template. It helps get my ideas lined up.
  3. Length: Remember you’re writing a picture book, and there will be illustration to depict your scenery. Get all your ideas on paper, it doesn’t matter much on this first draft, unless you go over 10 typed double-spaced pages. And even if you do, you will have content for your next book! Who knows, you could have a book series on your hands.

When I was drafting Champ and Nessie and Sandy the Cat, after getting my goal worksheet filled out, and typing up a story, I printed out several storyboard templates. I just started writing, filling the pages, and when I had the entire 32 page outline finished, the real work began. Everyone’s process is going to be different, but the steps you need to follow are the same. Utilizing a storyboard is the easiest way to organize your ideas, so you can discuss them with others on your team, and more importantly, you illustrator. Or if you are illustrating yourself, it will serve as a road map or you. A storyboard can be incredibly detailed, or not. The main premise of it is to identify key scenes and establish the timeline of how those scenes will play out in your story. The point of the storyboard is to provide visual clarity and keep everyone on the same page. It’s not supposed to be a work of art in and of itself. Next to or below each cell, fill in your description of what’s happening in the scene and you can even include dialogue that will take place.

When I say “Just Write” I mean it. JUST WRITE. You will be amazed where your imagination will lead you.

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