‘Writing Picture Books’ by Ann Whitford Paul

First of all, this book rocks! It is full of very useful exercises that you can do for your own stories and published ones. I had the pleasure of sitting on the lake front at Leamington marina while I did the exercises (that must help right?).

I related the exercises to my Eat Up story. Eat Up is undergoing some serious construction work anyway and after the exercises I could easily flip it on its head again. I will show you just one exercise. See how it compares to the first few lines of the current draft underneath.

exercise:
Hello Salad
Hello Meat
Hello Potatoes
All of you I won’t eat.
Do me a favor
And hop off my plate.
I will tell mum
Everything I ate

current draft:
It was dinner time in Tommy’s house and Tommy was not happy.
“Here you go Tommy, eat up please,” said Tommy’s mom putting down a plate of food and a bowl of chocolate cake.
“But MOM! I don’t like this!” Tommy moaned.

I have learned from having Eat Up critiqued and from the exercises that I need to focus on one aspect of the story and cut the rest out. Either the issue is just between Tommy and his mum or it is between Tommy and some mystery guests. And the mystery guests win because they are a lot of fun, very good to illustrate and kids will be more interested in reading it if it is more child/animal centered.

I cannot recommend Anne Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books enough. When I have finished with Eat Up, I will do a few exercises on my zoo stories. And you never know, they may no longer be zoo stories after all! Happy Editing everyone

p.s. so glad I took a photo of Writing Picture Books rather than inserting it from a website. Look at the way the flash lights up the door, how mystical.

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