My Top Tips for making a Picture Book

Layla's Luck - Jo Rooks

1. Keep a notebook (or several) for all your ideas.

Sometimes I write things down in the middle of the night or on my phone if I'm out and about. Sometimes my notebooks have random expressions I've heard or funny rhyming words or the name of a plant which I like.

2. Enjoy poetry!

Try making up a rhyme the next time you take a walk or you are waiting for the bus - its a really fun way to pass the time. Try to think about the rhythm of the words as you say them.

3. Find a Problem

A story is only a story when there is a problem or journey of some kind. So look out for the little problems in life you can write about. The next time you have a little upset or embarrassing situation think of it as great fuel for your next story!

4. Draw from life and photos

Don’t expect your sketches to be perfect. You learn as you make mistakes. I draw from life but I also use lots of photographs to help me too especially when drawing animals. Study how other artists draw their characters too.

5. Visit the library and the book shop

When I first wanted to write picture books I was obsessed with them. I would take my children to the library and come out with my arms full of as many books as we could take out. Once I was fined £60 because we went on holiday and forgot to take all the books back - whoops! Thankfully they reduced the fine a bit because they could see what a die hard picture book fan I was!

6. Writing has nothing to do with spelling (yes, really!)

If you are not good at spelling it doesn’t mean you can’t be a great STORY TELLER. I went to a very creative primary school and my spelling was atrocious! When I went to secondary school my creative writing would come back covered in red pen. My teacher said, 'Your writing is great but your spelling is terrible!' I had to work at my spelling but I got there in the end. When you write a story, you write it in your head first. The pen to paper thing is just a way to get it out into the world. So don't worry if you have difficulty spelling. Writing is more about creative ideas!

7. Always try to have fun!

I often get frustrated when something doesn't seem to be working but I've found the best thing to do is leave it alone for a bit and go back to it at a later date (like 6 months later!) It's weird but when you leave it alone rather than try to force it, you come back to it so much clearer and you can take it on to the next place. When it’s not fun don’t give up on that idea. Instead think that the idea needs to have a little nap for a while and might flourish later.

Happy writing!

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