Jennie Lynn Johanson
5 Writing Tips to Make Your Words Sing
Updated: May 1, 2020
Being a writer can be a very lonely career. That’s why I like to attend many writing conferences and workshops to stay connected with the writing community. I have filled so many notebooks from all the notes I have taken at these events! I am so grateful to have learned so much from experts in the field. So as I sit down to write, I do my best to stay focused and keep in mind the following…
1-Make the Words Sing
Since picture books are meant to be read out loud. I try to make my sentences sing and have a nice, easy flow to them. As I’m writing out my story, I keep in mind the pictures. A picture book is a partnership between a writer and an illustrator. So I try to give enough information in my sentences to assist the illustrator, but not too much where the illustrator might feel artistically trapped.
Even if all of what I build up for the character doesn’t go in the book, it all helps in writing the storyline.
When I have an idea in mind for a story, the first thing I focus on is the character. Whether it’s an animal, person or even an inanimate object. I think of the character’s personality, mannerisms and if it’s an animal then it’s natural traits. I think of its back story. For example, where does the character live, it’s relationships with others and what it likes and dislikes. Even if all of what I build up for the character doesn’t go in the book, it all helps in writing the storyline.
3- Purposeful words
I try not to get attached to a particular word or sentence. A children’s book doesn’t have tons of pages and there also has to be space for pictures. So you don’t have an unlimited amount of words you can use. Every word has to fit and have a purpose. I find it helpful to read the story out loud and be sure it has a nice rhythm to it.
So the moral of the story should be conveyed in a way that isn’t preachy.
4- Make it fun
Kids don’t like to be told what to do and think. They can tell when they are being lectured. So the moral of the story should be conveyed in a way that isn’t preachy. Kids want to read fun stories with relatable characters. They don’t want a moral message screaming out to them from the pages of a book. Subtle is best.
5- Watch for Page Breaks
Most picture books are 32 pages and not all pages are for story. There is a title page, copyright page and an end page. So typically there is 24 pages for a story. See below. It’s helpful to lay out your book as a “dummy book”. So you can take advantage of page turns and make them surprising. It’s also helpful so you can plan out any scenery changes which makes for an exciting page turn.