Craft Book Read-Along: Writing Picture Books – Section 1 Assignment

writingpicturebookscoverIf you are reading WRITING PICTURE BOOKS along with me, I hope you are humming along and have been able to find some of the picture books cited, as well as your “good” and “bad” example books to type out. I had a little trouble finding a good “bad” example (if that makes any sense), but finally unearthed one, and a few days ago typed in all 1300 rambling, unstructured words. Whew!

Next week, I will check in about my progress with the first section of the book—Becoming a Picture Book Scholar—and would love to hear from you about your progress as well. Have you found it helpful to type out a manuscript or two? What are your thoughts about the chapter?

As a reminder, below is the assignment for this section. My advice is, don’t skip this assignment. The good and bad manuscript examples that you type now will be used throughout the rest of the book, and of course you will want a manuscript of your own to work on as you do the exercises she recommends. I’m taking the easy way out on that one and using a story I wrote last year that I want to revise, rather than writing something completely new.

Section 1—Before You Write Your Story

Assignments for Chapter 1: Becoming a Picture Book Scholar

– Spend time reading picture books (especially those mentioned in Writing Picture Books)

– Choose a published book you love, and one that you think doesn’t work (both published in the last 5 years). Type out the text of both books.

– Read a new picture book

– Write a draft of a picture book (if you don’t already have one)

6 thoughts on “Craft Book Read-Along: Writing Picture Books – Section 1 Assignment

  1. tinamcho says:

    I have a folder on my computer of typed-out manuscripts of published pb’s. But I’ve only typed the good ones and analyze them. Hmm, maybe I should try a bad one. This exercise is very valuable.

  2. Hannah Holt says:

    I’m also having trouble finding a good bad one. I’ve found several that are like– meh. But I’m still hunting for one that is just plain terrible. How did you choose your good one? I have a stack of good ones that I like for different reasons. I can’t decide which is my favorite.

    • Carrie Finison says:

      It was a problem for me, too. I think editors at major publishers do a fairly good job of maintaining quality standards, which makes it hard to find truly bad examples. Even if I don’t particularly like a book because of the characters, message, etc, I can see that most books hang together structurally fairly well.

      The book I chose was by a fairly well known author. I had read a book by him about 3 years ago that I didn’t like at all, and was trying to find it again at the library — ended up finding another book by him that also was kind of a dud.

      You might find something by looking at celebrity books, too. Some are great, but I’ve read a few where the story doesn’t quite work. Also, the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble might be another place to look.

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