May 5, 2021-Writing for Kids is our theme this month, and today we’ll touch on the importance of outlining your children’s picture book. Outlines are essentially blueprints for your story, and some people make the error of thinking that because of the length of picture books that they’re simple to write and that no outline is needed, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every story needs an outline, and writing for kids aged 3-7 is actually more difficult than writing a full-sized novel because you only have about 850 words to explain your story, develop your characters, and wrap it up with a bow. Here are 5 steps to outlining:
- Introduction– Start where the action is! This goes for every book that we write, not just kid’s books. We need to grip the reader from the very first pages because children have short attention spans, and we need to keep their attention for them to finish our story. We introduce the protagonist right away.
- Rising Action-This is where we build up to the climax by introducing a problem or challenge. This is something that the protagonist overcomes, and here we introduce the antagonist that stands in the way of the main character getting what they want.
- Climax-Here’s where the rubber meets the road. The challenge is clear, and it’s at a boiling point (think Hansel and Gretel when the witch tries to trick them into climbing into the oven, but Gretel pushes the witch in instead!).
- Falling Action-The protagonist defeats the antagonist, and the adrenalin in the story returns to normal. The character gets to take a deep breath and return to normal life.
- Ending-The challenge/conflict is resolved, questions are answered, and there’s a happy ending; the lost pet is found, the monster under the bed is now a friend, and the very bad cat is caught and bathed.
When writing for kids, be sure that you create an in-depth outline. Outlining also stops you from painting yourself into a corner that you can’t get out and lets you know if an idea doesn’t work. It allows you to see the story as a whole and shines a light on what you could be missing.
To find out more information on writing for kids, check out our Children’s Book Writing Masterclass: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House