PoetryWithPip – Editing Picture Books

Hi Again!

My Mum retired recently and I have been trying to encourage her to write something (since she is so bored; Hi Mum!). She is currently writing her second children’s book (based upon her three grandchildren) and this got me thinking about how I go about editing for different audiences.

Writing for children (5, 2 and 0) is quite challenging (trust me, I tried writing poetry for children… it didn’t go so well! =] ) but my Mum has the ‘knack’! She understands what children would find interesting in a story line and creates a plot line really well for the age she is aiming at (the kids ask for the first book every time they come round, *sigh*).

However, editing down these stories takes time since we are not only thinking about the plot line, words they know, words the ‘next level’ up for them to learn, but also about turning the book into a picture book.

Most children’s picture books (for the age we are writing for) don’t have that many words around the pictures. We want the kids (especially the eldest) to be able to read the book if they wanted. If there are too many words on one page she can gets overwhelmed and struggles to read.

For this second book I want to really simplify the language, but also make it enjoyable to read. The key to editing something down to the ‘bare bones’, as what is needed for a picture book, is to make sure the key elements are shown and presented.

To start this editing process, I check how many key ‘images’ or ‘scenes’ there are in the book. Once I’ve found this, I think about what words are going round each picture and how this will look on the page (editing down as I go to make sure things still make grammatical sense and are also concise and simplistic for them to understand and read).

Kids pick up on ‘missing things’ ( i.e. if your character suddenly doesn’t have a hat on in the picture but it not being said in the book) quite quickly and ask questions about these so it’s always best to think about your book from their point of view and fill these in accordingly. Reading other children’s books can really help; just like writing a poem, it always helps to look at different examples to help you really capture your target audience.

Obviously, editing for a picture book is completely different from how I would edit a poem or short story but the basics of editing stay the same (researching your audience, reading similar styles, finding the main plot line/concept and trying to edit down according to the form of the piece and trying to keep the tone and style even throughout).

What’s the most unusual thing you have had to edit and what form do you love it edit the most?

I look forward to hearing from you and if there’s anything you would like me to help edit, don’t hesitate to ask!

Speak soon!

Pip x



2 thoughts on “PoetryWithPip – Editing Picture Books

  1. Great post Pip!

    You show light on an really interesting approach to the editing process which I think we often overlook as writers, or its definitely something I often over look when I go about editing a piece.

    You’re entirely right though, its important to consider our readers (whoever they may be), its our jobs as creatives to consider the effects of each element of our products (the story and how we present it), being aware of how each tiny detail will be effect our readers is hugely important and will have repercussions on the story we may think we’re telling.

    Some great food for thought and as always I looking forward to the next post.:)
    (I may very well take you up on that offer of editing some work!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      To most people editing is just second nature but I remember the first time that I edited something that wasn’t a poem and I really struggled!

      Its good to have main points to focus upon when editing and stick to the original story and who its aimed at.

      =] Please feel free to send me anything you would like editing any time!

      Pip x


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