I’ve been working on a top-secret picture book project for the last few months. I can’t quite spill the beans (yet).
One thing I can tell you is that this project has been like picture book writing boot camp. I’ve written multiple manuscripts on tight deadlines. I’ve also had more editorial control than writers usually would. I’ve had to make decisions about the page breaks, illustrations, and layouts.
I needed a way to keep track of all the pieces: narrative arcs, character development, page breaks, and layouts. I just couldn’t keep track of it all. I tried lots of tricks of the trade but nothing worked for me.
What I really wanted was a template. Something that would show me where all the pieces should go: the opening to hook my readers, the climax, and the satisfying resolutions. Then I could just fit my story into the template. And if it didn’t fit, I would know what to edit.
So I made one.
These templates are made with 3×3 inch squares for each page of a picture book, perfect for sticky notes. There are versions already laid out for a standard 32-page book. These have helpful information to keep you on track: where text starts and stops, where to put the resolution, reminders to include a good hook, and checklists to make sure you have strong opening and endings. There’s also a blank so you can make your own if you need something other than a standard 32-page book.
Grab a printed template, your manuscript, and a stack of sticky notes. Write out your text onto sticky notes. Each sticky note should be a page’s worth of text in the final picture book. Stick these onto the template and see how it fits.
Does the resolution come when it should? Does your text fit in the right number of pages? Look at each spread, is there a compelling page turn that will move the reader forward?
You’ll probably realize at this point that you need to make some changes. Working with your text page by page shows you things that are hidden when your text is flat on the page. At this point you can go back to your manuscript and make changes.
You can also revise right there with the sticky notes. Move them around, scratch out lines, jot down notes, mess them up as much as you like. And deleting words is a lot easier when you can crumple up a little square and bank shot it into the trashcan.
Want to get a copy? Here it is: