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Hints on How to Write and Illustrate Christian Picture Books for Children
A Picture Story Book I Wrote and Illustrated
How to Use Those Creative Ideas
Writing and illustrating Christian picture books for children can be so much fun. God designed us to be creative and using these faculties can be such a delight, but even when we have those creative ideas it can be difficult to know where to start to develop them and turn them into a book that will be fun, interesting and informative for children of families with a Christian background.
- Begin with Ideas
- You will probably start off with the germ of an idea for the story. Perhaps you want to write a Bible story in simplified language that makes it interesting for young children, or
- it may be that you want to write a fun story that teaches a Christian moral.
- You may even choose to write the whole story in rhyme, either serious or funny.
2. Record those Ideas
- As you think and pray about how you will develop the story, you will probably begin to imagine what some of the illustrations might look like, too. A good way to begin is to have a brain-storming session. For me, when I get an idea, I find it's best to scribble everything down on a piece of paper or in an old notebook, even adding basic sketches as they come to mind, before I forget them again.
- As I work out what I want to do with the story, I add to the scrawl on the paper. Then I may number the main points, so that they flow in a good sequence. After I have decided on the way I want the story to develop, then I begin to commit it to the computer. You may find this is a helpful way to go, or you may begin using the computer straight away. It's really a matter of personal preference.
- Once you have a first draft on the computer, it is so useful for moving sentences around to help the story to flow and for checking the spelling.
- Finally, the computer is wonderful for arranging the pagination and other things that I like to call the 'housekeeping' part of my writing.
3. Decide how you will present those ideas
While you have been working out the skeleton of the story, you have probably been thinking of the best way to present it, as well. You may choose to have only a brief text and tell most of the story in the illustrations, or it may be a longer text that is supported by the art work. There is the choice of genre, too. Choose one you are comfortable with and that suits your topic.
Choosing a Topic
The first thing to do is choose a topic that will appeal to children of your target age-range.
- If it is a Bible story, it will need to be one that the young readers can relate to easily.
- If it is imaginative, as a Christian writer you probably also want to be able to teach something, whether in a serious or fun way.
- One of my stories began with a walk along a tropical beach with grandchildren. A number of pandanus seeds had been washed up along the shoreline. When we picked up a few, we noticed that holes had been drilled, probably by insects, and the holes looked just like eyes. I thought, "This could make a story about some pandanus seed people," and that how The Pandanus People (Ages 4-8) was born. Chips Quackety (Ages 3-6) and Joan and The Great Depression (Ages 10-12) were based on an events that actually occurred.
- Your ideas might spring from your own childhood memories, or from a chance remark made by a child.
- Sometimes it is best to simply commit the embryo of the idea to your notes and leave it there for a while to take root and develop slowly.
- At another time your mind may be so filled with exciting ideas that you want to get the whole first draft down in one sitting.
One word of advice: persevere. If it is what God wants you to do, it's worth doing it well.