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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Picture Books Mini Workshop: Part Four:Layouts

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“Furthermore, the words don’t repeat what is in the picture and vice versa; their relationship is contrapuntal, they complement and complete each other.” Uri Shulevitz


Whether or not you are an illustrator, or perhaps especially if you are not an illustrator, it’s a good idea to do a preliminary layout of your story in order to examine the focus of each scene. The best time is after your first/second drafts before you prepare to do the final polish.

Stick figures are the only level of art skill needed, and/or write the word down that answers the questions.

Scene-by-scene draw the picture.

Answer questions box by box.
1.    What happens first? 2. What happens next? 3. Then what happens? 4. What happens? Repeated 5 throughout until, The End.

Questions each box needs to answer.

1. What is the dominant emotion in each scene?
2. Who’s in the picture?
3. Are there transitions?
4. Does each square change emotion?


1   No matter how solid the plot is if emotions don’t change then the story remains flat.
2   Depending on who shows up in each square may indicate the need to change the main character. And who exactly is telling the story? Also note that if an adult is included it should be the child who solves the problem.
3   The transitions will show the movement of the action.

Text Box:  oneText Box: two
Text Box: three

                         1. What happens?               2. What happens next?        3.Then what happens?
                                            Emotion                              Emotion                           Emotion     

Text Box:  four
Text Box: endText Box: last

                               And next…                       What happens now?            The End           
                                        Emotion                            Emotion                               Emotion

 Action Steps:

1.     Type up one published picture book to see how long the text is.

2.     Put squares on a sheet of paper.

3.     Practice laying out six to eight squares on the practice grid working only from your typed version and not looking at the book illustrations.

Share: What did you notice? Did emotions or actions change square to square?

Read deep, marcy

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