Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Special Demands of Picture Book Writing


The other day, I watched an old panel discussion of famous novelists whose books have been turned into successful films. YouTube is full of old treasures like these. Between writing, revising, and laundry— hanging out with these writers (all of them now gone) is my favorite sort of break.


Not one of the writers on this panel wrote their novels’ film adaptations. One, Kurt Vonnegut, said he simply couldn’t because writing a novel is what he does best and writing a screenplay is too different.


It occurred to me that while many think they could write picture books, few who try actually write true picture books. Vignettes, shorter short stories, a scene--- all pass for  picture book texts in the eyes of beginning writers. True picture books are something different.


True picture book texts are poetry, rhyming or not. In addition, they are screenplays, where the main action is told in images. They also require the skill of flash-fiction writing, as the word count tops up at 600-800 words. Unlike this blog post, it shouldn’t use passive construction. The story must be layered and complete.


I’m almost certain Kurt Vonnegut would have said he couldn’t write a picture book.


MirkaK said...

I have written only non-fiction books, articles, book reviews, etc., so I do not have a clue about fiction, screenplays, and picture books. Some writers are able to do crossovers, but probably those who are successful at it are rare.

Kelly Hashway said...

I've written over 200 short stories and several picture books. I no longer write them, though. Writing a novel is easier is so many ways. In any book, every word should count and be carefully selected, but that's even more important in shorter works. It's no easy task.

Evelyn said...

Being able to write an excellent picture book is a rare talent. My hat is off to those who are able to accomplish it.

Vijaya said...

Last year, at the Carolinas conference I watched a wonderful presentation by Vincent Kirsch how screenwriting can help PB writing.