Revisiting Picture Books

January I brought up how I was going to be participating in #kitlitart’s PB dummy challenge. It’ll be new and exciting! I said. It’ll be fun! I said.

Turns out writing picture books is really hard.

It’s interesting, because I’ve never really been terribly in-tune with picture books before, but now that I’m working on one myself, they seem to be everywhere. I’ve been getting requests in my editing/formatting business for picture books left and right – and believe me, formatting has not been truly frustrating until you have to convert a picture book into an epub. (Epubs? Don’t like pictures.)

(On the other hand, editing picture books? Lovely. I would do it all day.)

I even went to a critique group last month and someone had a picture book.

Picture books are hard for a number of reasons:

1) How much description is right? Too much and you risk bogging the story down for the kidlets. Too little and no one has any idea what’s happening, and you can only distract them with landsquid for so long.

2) Word choice. A few new words are probably okay, but you have to make sure the kids are going to understand what’s happening.

3) I am a not a child. I occasionally read picture books but am definitely not the target audience, so sometimes it’s hard to get in the right mindset.

I know that picture book writing, like everything else, is something that will take time and dedication, and I’m beginning to wonder: am I spreading myself too thin? I don’t really need to be good at novels and short stories AND picture books, necessarily.

Not to say that I’m giving up. I have a first draft and I’ve gotten some feedback on it. I’ll try to fix it up before I throw in the towel. But it kind of seems to be going the way screenwriting did – interesting, good to try, but not necessarily what I want to do.

Time will tell, though.

How do you feel about picture books, Squiders? Ever tried to write one? How do you feel about choosing formats of writing and sticking to them?

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