Using Illustration to Simplify Your Writing

If you’re writing a children’s picture book, you probably won’t be doing the illustrations yourself. Publishers do not want you to submit pictures with your words unless you are a professional. However, it is important for you to visualize the book in its full format.

Storyboards are essential for picture book writers. These do not need to be submitted to the publisher. However, they will help you to understand several things about your book. One important feature is that it will clarify what can be revealed in the illustrations and what needs to be explained in the words. A good rule of thumb is, if it can be drawn, it doesn’t need to be written. You may decide to feature one element from the words, show what happens next without writing it at all, or expand on what has been written.

You may decide to add illustration notes if it is essential to the story for the picture to be drawn according to your vision. However, giving the illustrator free reign may take your work into an entirely new direction. Trust the illustrations to tell half the story, whether you are doing them or the publisher is providing the illustrator. The completed story may be entirely different from what you imagined but this is typical when collaborating in the arts.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


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