Today I'm writing about something that will hopefully help each of you (and myself) learn to write better, even novelists. The craft of writing. The writer's craft. Let's look at some books that model those writing elements. Specifically, picture books. Don't get me wrong though. Just because we'll be looking at picture books does not mean that they can't help writers of other audiences too.
The top 10 story elements for picture books (and the top 5 story elements for novelists) are as follows:
- word play
- beginnings and endings
Now, these elements of story I didn't just pull out of a hat. I thought long and hard about each of them. The first five apply to novels as well as picture books, even short stories. I even put them in the best possible order of importance I could manage. Of course, they are all important. But you really do have to have a character. The last five are mostly for picture books, although several can be for novels. And of course, rhyme is not for all picture books, but it is an important element in a lot of them.
Teaching with picture books is becoming more and more common in schools, from grade 2 through grade 12. I aim to teach with picture books too. To help writers use picture books to learn writing techniques for their own writer's craft. Using picture books to teach writing will hopefully be just as much fun for you as it will be for me. Note that there may be an occasional spoiler, especially when dealing with #10 (Beginnings and Endings).
In the coming weeks, I'll go into more depth using the examples listed below and give more in depth definitions of the top ten story elements for writing picture books. The words in (parentheses) list other similar elements that are included in the category.
- Character (point of view)
- Baloney (Henry P.) by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
- The Science Project that Almost Ate the School by Judy Sierra
- The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch
- Sixteen Cows by Lisa Wheeler
- Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
- Halloweiner by Dav Pilkey
- The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy
- Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski and Henry Cole
- Because You Are My Baby by Sherry North and Marcellus Hall
- I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse
There you have it, folks! The goal is to share a new book that features one of these crafts on the 14th of every month. Just click on the links above to take you to the main page for each craft. It'll list MORE than just the book shown here. And over time, each list will grow. Hope to see you there!
Keep on keepin' on...