Getting Started On Your Picture Book

To follow are some suggestions from publishers to help young people when they begin work on their picture books, from thinking up ideas to structuring their story.

Creating a picture book is fun but it can also be daunting, especially when you start out, so here are some brief tips to help get started with your picture books.

You can download these tips via the PDF, below.


Before you start working on your own picture book, take some time to look at picture books that you have enjoyed and try to work out why you liked them. Was it the story, the humour or the details in the images that you enjoyed? How can you make your own picture book just as appealing?

Ask your teacher or librarian if they have other picture books you can look at, so you see a wide range of stories.


Here are some of the things you will need to think about as you start work on your own picture book.


Some authors begin their stories by deciding who, or what, their main character will be. Will yours be a boy or girl or some kind of animal? Perhaps you want an alien or an explorer as your main character? You will need to decide their name. Is the main character alone or will there be other characters with them?


What is the setting? Is it in a house, in the jungle or under the sea? Your character can travel anywhere you want to take them - to another country or another world entirely.


Will it be a spooky story or something funny, a story based on real life or one from your imagination?

What is your character going to be doing in this story, where is he or she going? You could ask yourself: What does my character want and how is he/she going to get it? Set up a problem and then see how your character will resolve it, perhaps with a twist in the tail!

Don't forget to write down all your ideas, talk to your friends about them, and then choose the idea that you feel is the strongest.


Most picture books are up to 700 words long - and some are a lot shorter with just a few words - or even no words at all - on each page.

Try to keep your story as short as you can. Too many words will get in the way; pictures are every bit as important as the words in a picture book.

Remember that in a picture book, the picture will take up most of each page!


Most picture books are about 24 pages long, or you can think about it in terms of 12 'spreads' (although your picture book can be shorter than this if you want). You will need to decide how you want your pages to be divided up, with the beginning, middle and end of your story.

Often, picture book stories follow this pattern:

* The first quarter of your picture book can be used to set up the story: we meet the characters and find out what the character wants and why this is a problem.

* The main part of your story shows us what the character does next and brings the story to a climax. The climax normally arrives around two thirds of the way through your picture book.

* The last few pages of your picture book can be used to resolve the story so you have a funny, sad or surprising ending.

It's important that each page of your book leaves your reader wanting to turn over the next page; try to keep your reader hooked with something funny or exciting happening on each spread.

REMEMBER that we need to have your picture book entry on A4 sized paper, and PORTRAIT style (or upright) rather than landscape (sideways).


Try to create a striking cover for your picture book - it's the first thing that people will see and it's the cover that attracts people to open the first pages of your picture book.

You will also need to think carefully to find a title that tells the reader a little bit about your picture book.


Creating a picture book takes lots of work, but we also hope you have fun making your own picture book. We look forward to seeing your work!

16/01/2021Getting Started On Your Picture Book