Find out which elements in your story should be changed (and remain the same)
Before you decide to turn your children’s picture book into a series or create one from scratch, consider one key component: consistency!
Publishing a children’s picture book series (or any book series in whatever genre) is a great way to increase engagement and retain your existing readers (and possibly gain new readers). It also allows you to expand or create storylines (or even “spinoffs”) of your main character (and secondary characters) performing and engaging in a variety of actions and situations that will grab your readers’ attention from start to finish.
But in order to call it a “series,” there are specific elements that should stay the same so your readers will not be confused and think they are reading completely different stories within the series that are not related. Make sense? Consider keeping the following elements consistent when writing each story within your series.
Create a main character with unique traits that stand out from the rest of the characters in the story. Traits can include personality, appearance, goals, accomplishments, relationship with others, strengths and weaknesses, etc. The plot in each story will be different, of course, which may show the character with varying emotions and actions. But make sure those traits remain the same in each story in the series. A good way to keep track of your characters’ traits is by creating a character study, which is a chart or list that breaks down specific qualities of your character.
Points of View (POV)
Third person is the most common POV for children’s picture book. Why? Well, children’s picture books are meant to be read aloud, and third person, which provides a “bird’s eye view” of a story that details occurrences of one or all characters (using the pronouns, “he,” she,” or “they”), helps young readers (and listeners who cannot read yet) understand the story more clearly and develop essential skills for learning. So, if one of the stories in the series is written in third person, the rest of the story should be written in third person as well.
Your Style of Writing Every writer has (or should have) a writing style that is unique. And that writing style can vary depending on the story that is being written. For instance, some writers like using a lot of dialogue, while others are known from their great use of onomatopoeia, which is a literary device for words that imitate sounds (ex: Bzzzz – bees, Vroom! – revving car, etc.). For your children’s picture book series, establish your style and own it, and ensure it carries over into the entire series. If your style stands out and is unique, your readers will definitely recognize it as your style.
Your style of writing also includes creating opening lines that are unique for your story and series. For children’s picture books, the opening line is crucial as its purpose is to instantly excite and grab your readers’ attention. The opening line is also the perfect place for super catchy lines that can be carried over throughout the story and into the beginning of the other stories within the series. If it’s written well and catchy enough, readers may remember and identify your series by the opening line alone, which is great for engagement.
The recommended word count for children’s picture books is generally between 500 and 700 words, but no more than 1,000 words. Therefore, keep the word count for each story with these ranges. So, if the first story in the series is 730 words, the rest of the stories should not stray far from that. Readers will notice the difference in length. If a story within the series is much longer than the others, it’s a possibility that story will most likely drag on and ultimately bore readers.
For more picture book writing tips and strategies, visit Birds-Love.com.