Tuesday 25 May 2021

Sean Taylor's Top Tips for writing a Picture Book

What makes a strong picture book text? There are no definitive answers. But Sean Taylor, author of How To Be Cooler than Cool, uses this little checklist to test the readiness of a developing text. 

Sean Taylor: "Sometimes a new story is strong in a number of areas, but not all. Checking through these 9 pointers can identify what needs to be worked on. And it can spark the ideas that a story needs, to evolve…"

1. Is there a character with whom young children will fall in love– preferably after one sentence?

2. Is there something about the story that will 'hook' readers in from the start?

3. Does the story have a page-turning quality as it progresses?

4. What does the main character want?

5. Is there an emotional journey, as well as a story journey? (It doesn’t matter what the emotion is.)

6. Is there visual variety for an illustrator?

7. Does everything happen across a short time-span? (Picture book stories very often describe a single day, or even less.)

8. Is the story truly young...truly for and about children under 6?

9. Is there some kind of ending uplift that will delight young readers? (There are many kinds: twists, jokes, echoes, questions, satisfying resolutions. Best of all, perhaps, none of those…but something no-one’s come up with before!)

Thank you to Sean for these top tips! 

Download our coooooooool activity sheets here.

“For the child worried about keeping up playground appearances, How to Be Cooler than Cool by Sean Taylor is a reminder that the coolest thing is to be yourself.” – The Telegraph

How to Be Cooler than Cool is available from all good booksellers.