Monday, January 6, 2014

Writing Picture Books by Deanna Klingel

Deanna Klingel

Happy Monday, writers! Have you ever thought of writing a picture book for children? I've loved reading them to my kids over the years. From the pictures to the stories, picture books are imaginative and they feed creativity. Our guest today writes them and is here to share her experience. Whatever your dreams, write on! ~ Annette

Writing Picture Books
by Deanna Klingel

Funny how many things come full circle and catch us unawares. When I was in school I used to say “I want to write children’s books when I grow up.” I grew up, but instead of writing books for children, I was reading books to my seven children for many years. We loved to read, find “secret” things hidden in the pictures, learn new words, giggle at the funny rhymes or plots, and memorize the text. When they were small, I’d write little stories about them, for them. And eventually, they all grew up and moved into an adult world. I was pleased to finally have time to pick up a grown-up book with lots of pages, like Nicholas and Alexandria, and read it without interruption. But it wasn’t until “retirement” that I began my writing career.

I’ve written several books for young readers, but only recently picture books. I know from comments I hear at conferences and book events that many people think writing books for little kids is easy and good practice for writing “real” books. I’ve heard comments like, “I think I’ll start with something easy, like a picture book, then move up.” 

As with every genre, picture books have their own “rules.” With 150-1000 words, depending on the age of the reader, economy is important. The writer must think like a child. Using simple style and structure, every word must be necessary. There is no room for “telling.” Words help the pictures “show” both action and dialogue. Because the stories are quickly read, doesn’t mean they are quickly written. And because they are for children, doesn’t mean they are easy to write.

My first picture books, the Little Beth Series, are coming out soon. These books were written for my youngest daughter when she was four. They went to contract on her thirty-fourth birthday!


Deanna Klingel lives and writes in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband Dave (her live-in I-T guy), and their golden retriever, Buddy. Their seven children are all married and live across the southeast with eleven Klingel grandchildren. 

Available soon: Beth's Birds

Little Beth shows children the names of the birds in their yard.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful illustration, Deanna! With two little grandsons now, I once again an back into picture books! I'll look for this one. I am a bird nut, too, and love learning about them.


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