Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Picture Book Savvy

Spending time with authors to discuss writing, publishing, and their successes and failures is like attending an intensive writing workshop. Sharing experiences, ideas, and knowledge are invaluable nuggets of manuscript gold. The following are gilded tidbits:

Picture book authors’ perspective should be the same world view as that of the child. This means no abstract problems or goals. The story must be illustratable and action oriented. Five-year-olds take ideas literally. The characters should react in the same way a child would. If writers can connect with the life of a child in some way, the story will have more appeal to the reader.

Example: I want to win every game. Children will understand this idea and connect mentally and emotionally.

Will the child care about your subject? If not, they won’t want to read the book. Writers have to think like a child and have the characters act and react the way a child of that age would. Always keep the audience in mind with each word. In my latest picture book, FORTY WINKS, the subject is a monster in a closet. Many children are afraid of the dark. I certainly was, and I'm still not crazy about it. The story also deals with resolving conflict, an experience all children deal with regularly.

What is important to the child? Consider his/her feelings. The subject of your story must have relevance to everyday life.

Next week, I’ll provide more golden nuggets of our conversations.

Call for submissions for Young Writers:
Magic Dragon, a quarterly publication, presents writing and art created by children in the elementary school grades in a magazine of quality four-color printing and graphic display.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers:
Story is interested in narrative of any shape and kind we can get onto the printed page. Surprise us with traditional and experimental forms of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We love short fiction, but we love hermit-crab essays, hybrid forms, research, lists, and charts too. Submit work that fits the theme, but don't be afraid to think outside the box. Submissions for online issues should be a maximum of 2,500 words.Submission guidelines at

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

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