I’ve been working on a new picture book manuscript, my first one in a while. It’s a poem that came out of experiences with my kids and with others’ and the troubles they face.
I put it away for a couple days, pulling it out again this morning. Now that I’ve decided it’s a picture book, I’m revising it with an eye to the requirements of the format.
O the horror! It’s unillustrateable!
(Yes, I just made that word up.)
What do I mean?
Illustrators don’t just draw nice pictures–they support the text. They provide additional interest to the book and, most importantly, help the reader build meaning out of the words.
When you write a picture book (assuming you aren’t also the illustrator), you need to establish concrete, evocative images or lively scenes that are natural material from which an illustrator can work. They need to vary enough in content or setting in order to maintain visual interest for the reader.
That is, unless you think young children really dig “My Dinner With Andre.”
Moments begging for illustration are missing in my current picture book draft. I’m going to have to go back and sneak in some more opportunities for a future illustrator (whomever he or she turns out to be) to insert their images if I’m ever to convince an editor they want this story.
Have you ever re-experienced your first draft, or switched genres mid-project, only to realize you’ve missed some of the essentials of the genre? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.