Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ten signs that you’re a picture book writer by Jane Clarke


I didn't set out to be a picture book writer, I intended to write novels.  So for anyone else who is as confused as I was…

You know you’re a picture book writer if:

  • You seriously consider the point of view of talking animals.



From The Far Side by Gary Larson

  • Your story spends more time in your head than it does getting it down on paper.


One of Julia Woolf's fab sketches from my post on ideas composting


  • You see your story in pictures even though you’re not an illustrator. 
  • You can't resist planning it out in ten to twelve spreads.


This is how Knight Time looked before Jane Massey's wonderful illustrations

  • You automatically think 

  • You get more satisfaction crafting a story in 400 words than you do writing it in 4,000 or 40,000 words. 

  • You have lots of fun thinking of awful puns (often removed by editor) and adding layers that the adult reading it will enjoy as well as the child. 



From Gilbert the Great illustrated by Charles Fuge. The name of the boat references the Jaws films.

  • You spend ages agonising over a word.





  •  Steam comes out your ears when someone implies that writing a picture book is easy.


Grrr! Picture books require skill.

  • You're reading posts on The Picture Book Den!
Please add to the list in the comments.


Jane's currently working on a series of toddler board books for Penguin Random House, three picture books for Nosy Crow, and a series called Dr KittyCat for OUP.




19 comments:

  1. I love this post - perfect expression on that glaring cat!

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    1. Cheers, Michelle, good to hear from you.

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  2. +1: the children's librarian at your local library has another book set aside she thinks you might like. Thanks for a fun post!

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    1. Oh yes, Julie! And never being able to resist buying a lovely picture book even when you have no small child in the family to read it to...

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  3. I can say yes to all of these. Love the cat and that is so true! I had a meeting with a literary agent recently and she could tell I was used to writing picture books as I had crammed so much in the first page of my submission :-) Will always be my first love and even when I'm writing my first attempt at my 11+ I still jot down ideas for PB's as I go along. Great post.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah, have fun writing your PBs :-)

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  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Julia - and thanks again for the use of your sketches on PBD

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  5. This made me laugh. I went into novel writing because picture books are SO hard! I'm still trying though.

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    1. And your reply made me laugh, too. Good luck with the picture books, Candy x

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  6. So true, Jane! And how about, 'You know it's not weird to read aloud to YOURSELF.' Or is that just me...

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    1. Not just you! How could I forget that one, Paeony???

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  7. Not just talking animals. Who else talks to their machines as if they are sentient beings? Lovely post.

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  8. I talk to the house which knows me well. I have a dog and a cat with magical qualities they save for their story adventures

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    1. Ha ha, I'm loving these confessions, thanks Jules.

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  9. I love this post and I love Picture Book Den. :)

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    1. Thank you - and thanks for taking the time to let us know you love PBD.

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  10. I love this post Jane. I might be a PB Writer after all! :)

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