4 Reasons to Draw Your First Picture Book Draft

About three weeks ago, I wrote a post about drafting your picture book. Among the things I discussed was Marla Frazee’s technique for writers. She recommends that we draw our first draft.

Yesterday I was feeling antsy in spite of a monstrous to-do list. I just didn’t want to do any of that. I wanted to write something new. I’d been noodling over an idea for a board book so I decided to use Frazee’s technique again.

As I drew I realized several things.

Page Turns Matter

I’ve known for ages that page turns matter but sketching a sheet of thumbnails made me more aware of page turns. I caught myself thinking that yes I could go from X spread to Y spread but . . . I really needed to make use of that page turn. I needed a surprise.

It completely altered the way I was thinking about this manuscript.

Pacing Problems

As I worked, I was also noting a few things about the pacing. What I currently have, doesn’t build. It is all over the place. I’m going to have to come up with pacing that not only builds from spread to spread but makes logical sense.

This is going to require another draft.

Disinterest Is a Sign

As I thought about how I could change things up in the next draft, I realized that I never got past this point on the last manuscript I drafted as thumbnails. Apparently drafting it and noodling about the problems had gotten it out of my system.

That’s not a good sign. A story that I can so easily “get over” isn’t a story that is going to grab the attention of an editor or agent. Maybe I can rework it to fix that but . . . do I really want to? I’ll have to think about it.

Parallel Stories

As I created my thumbnails, I realized that I was thinking of text and illustrations almost as parallel stories. One story is told by the text. Another is told by the illustrations and this one expands on the first.

That’s the way that picture books are supposed to work so I have hope that this technique is going to help me create successful picture book manuscripts. Do I dare try it for my graphic novel?


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