Wednesday, September 14, 2016



With fall comes that rush of back-to-school energy. A new year, a new beginning. New things to be learned, new friends to be made. A mood that has me thinking this is the perfect time to take my writing “back to the basics.” Which is a rather humbling thought—after all these years, shouldn’t I have the basics down?

Well, yes. And no. I think over time I’ve learned what the basics of story structure, of creating characters, of rhythm and pacing, of voice entail. But when one of my stories hits the desk of an agent or editor, have I applied those basics to the very best of my ability? Have I given my work the edge it needs to be the Waldo that stands out from the crowd? Judging by the ratio of rejections to nibbles . . .

No, it’s time to dig deeper. Time to take a step back. Several steps back, in fact. It’s time to go back to school. To pull those favorite books on writing for children off that dusty shelf and crack them open again. To go back through the scores of picture books I’ve read recently, pick my favorites, and dissect them as mentor texts. To boot up that online course I spent money on, put my bottom in my chair, and become a student again.

Will it pay off?

I’ll let you know.


My favorite books on writing for children:

Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman

Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

Second Sight by Cheryl Klein


The online course I’m using:

Picture Book BluePrint – Laura Backes, Children’s Book Insider

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