Picture Book Structure

Writers interested in picture book publication sometimes hear this disheartening comment during a critique:  This story doesn’t read like a picture book story. Why not? This comment can be confusing. It could be the subject matter, the age of the main character, or the structure of the story.

A picture book story most often fits into 32 pages. There are a few familiar structures that work well. It’s helpful to study common picture book structures and keep them in mind before revising or beginning a new story.

Great information can be found here, here, and here. There are helpful craft books like, How to Write a Children’s Picture Book, Vol. 1:  Structure by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman.

Then, put your knowledge to the test. Read the stack of books you checked out from the library with a notepad by your side. Jot down a few notes about the story structure.  Did the author use a common structure? How does the structure play out over the 32 pages?  Note the pacing, page turns, word count, sentence length, and how the illustrations work together with the text.

Studying picture book structure is one way to transform a story into a perfect picture book!




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