Want To Write A Picture Book?
There’s so few words in a picture book, surely it should be easy? Well, NO. Fewer words = every word counts. You cannot pad in a picture book.
Picture Books are Important Books
Picture books introduce kids to words and rhyme and the idea of sitting still. Often they become classics, enjoyed through generations.
Picture Books are fun for adults, too. I loved reading stories to my kids; it was fascinating to see what they noticed in the pictures and to hear their commentary on the story.
My boys are teenagers now, but they still remember some of the books we’d read together, and they can still recite the rhymes!
How to Write A Picture Book
I’ve never written a picture book, so I’ve no idea where to start. But I’m writing this post because I’m off to give a series of talks shortly in Taranaki* . As part of my preparation I reached out to Chrissy Metge, picture book writer at Duckling Publishing.
Chrissy has an intriguing background in screen animation, and has worked on major projects like The Jungle Book and Fast and Furious 7. She definitely understands words and visuals. She’s written four picture books now, about Max and His Big Imagination, and they’re fun, beautifully illustrated stories.
* I’m judging the Ronald Hugh Morrison Literary Awards in 2017. Want to know more about these awards? Click here
Chrissy Metge’s Big Imagination
Tell me a bit about you. What made you want to begin to write?
I did creative writing at school and loved it! Because of the movie and animation industry I work in, I am always around great ideas and creative people so have had many ideas of my own.
I always wanted to write my own kids books and when my son was born six weeks early I had time at the beginning — so I began to write them down! 🙂
Are the stories about Max’s adventure based on real-life events?
They are inspired from true events. My nephew Max inspired the first two books and my son inspired the latest one.
How does Max feel about being in a book?
He thinks its pretty cool!
What things did you have to consider when writing a picture book?
It’s a huge learning curve! When I did the first book I had FIVE print proofs done before I was happy. Looking at it on the screen is not the same when you hold the printed copy in your hands 🙂
You have to think of composition, make sure it’s not too busy. You don’t want things too close to the top or bottom of the page. Everything has to be easy to see and read.
You’ve got an amazing background in film and TV. What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on in your Day Job?
Oh that’s a hard one! I think to this day it is still Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — I had the most beautiful dedicated team. Also the Fast and Furious 7 — they were just blown away by what we achieved.
How does your Day Job help with your writing – what skills and/or qualifications have you found useful in your writing career?
I can see the images in my head and can convey to people what I see. For my day job it’s all about helping the director and artist’s vision become a reality. That’s helped so much in getting what I see to paper :).
You published your own picture books through Duckling Publishing. Why did you decide to run the process yourself?
I think the publishing industry in New Zealand is limited. They may only see a few books a year and you may not hear anything for six months. I believe in my books and I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to get them out there for the public to decide.
What’s been the highs of managing the process for yourself?
So immensely satisfying to see the books you have published in the hands of kids and in book shops and that they are loved! Plus, I have compete control of the whole process.
What have you learned?
Face-to-face is always best, I love going to markets to get feedback listening to kids and adults.
What advice would you give to other people thinking of writing a picture book?
Go for it! You never know until you try! Make sure you get an editor.
What advice would you give to people thinking of publishing their own work?
Do lots of research, sign up to Indie groups on Facebook and listen to lots of podcasts, also don’t give up!
What do you think Max will do next?
I have written books 4 and 5, I am so excited about book 4! Lots of adventure and imagination — that’s for sure!
Want to know more about Chrissy? Check out this interview on TV’s The Cafe or read more at Duckling Publishing.