I’d like to welcome Christine Henderson to Thyme for Writers. Christine enjoys writing about family life. Her writings have been featured in numerous anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul and Heaven Touching Earth as well as The Secret Place Devotional guide.
Why Storyboards Are Great Tools for Picture Book Writers
by Christine A. Henderson
I brought a new picture book story to my children’s writers’ group meeting and asked for their assistance in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the story. They all liked the unique plot and the characters but they thought the story was too long. For those of you who write novels, it’s probably hard to imagine that 900 words is too long to tell a story. However, these days 800 words tends to be the max length that publishers want to see.
Being inquisitive and stubborn, I really didn’t think I needed to shorten my story. Surely, new books had at least that many words or more. To test my theory, I went to my local Barnes & Nobles and picked up an assortment of new books that I thought fit my story idea concepts. Sad to say, that word count rang true. Most pages had an average of two to five lines of text with an upper end of nine words per line. The books were 24 or 32 pages with at least two of those pages either being blank or showing the publishing details and acknowledgements.
So it was back to the drawing board – literally. I had imagined a storyboard in my head with the images previously, but now I wanted to put it on paper. Not being a great artist, I drew my stick figures with a bracketed scene description below each drawing. Now I started adding the text. Once I did that, I could see what words weren’t needed because the picture showed that part of the story. It was easy to chop 100 or more words. The story hasn’t lost its plotline, but now it flows better with the images.
Another reason to do a storyboard for a picture book is to see if you have a short story, rather than a picture book. If your storyline takes place in just one or two scenes, it may not be a picture book because there aren’t enough options for illustrations. If that is the case, perhaps you could incorporate that story in a book of stories or submit it to one of the many children’s magazines who accept short stories.
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