Monday 23 August 2021

Not Just a Jealous Guy - Gareth P Jones

If you are an author, there is a good chance you have some presence on social media. If you’re anything like me, you have found that your life online became a considerably more significant aspect of your life over the course of the pandemic.  

Twitter is my social media site of choice. Most of the time, I find it a great way of making friends, maintaining friendships, making silly jokes, feeling connected, promoting books and finding work. 
But the subject of this blog is one aspect of being an author online that is harder to talk about because it involves a personality trait that I am ashamed of. I’m talking about Jealousy.

In G.E.M. by Jane Clarke and Garry Parsons, Royd has a Green Eyed Monster, which gets bigger and bigger until it eventually consumes him.

As my twitter friend, Elon Dann points out, there is a difference between jealousy and envy. As he puts it, “Jealousy is insecurity about a potential loss. Envy is resentful longing.” 

The feeling that I’m addressing here lies somewhere between these two definitions. Insecure longing - possibly with a touch of resentful fear of potential loss.  

Lots of my friends tell me they never feel this. Maybe you’re the same, in which case I am envious of your lack of jealousy. 

In David Litchfield’s The Bear, The Dog, The Piano and The Fiddle, Hugo the dog learns the fiddle and gets the chance to play with Bear’s Big Band but the question is whether Hugo's owner Hector can swallow his pride and learn to be for happy for his friend.

When you go online to big up your books, you are likely to encounter lots of other people doing the same. Whether you have signed a contract, received a copy of your brand-new book, found an agent, had a book published or received a glowing review, you are expected to capitalise on this positive moment. If you are appearing at a book festival or picking up a national book award, it would be stranger if you didn’t mention it on social media. As authors, we understand this and we support each other’s efforts in the hope that we can create a supportive, inclusive environment.  

Happily, for the most part, we succeed in this.

There is no place for expressing jealousy in this world. Feeling it is bad enough. Voicing it is unforgivable. Sometimes it might seep out in the form of suitably vague, but snarky joke. But you’ll know what you meant – and so will others. For that reason, those who suffer from jealousy learn that it is better to bury our feelings. 

We chastise ourselves for feeling this way. We tell ourselves that we have much to be grateful for and that many people’s dream is to be a children’s author. We feel embarrassed about these ugly thoughts. We feel shame that such thoughts could even cross our minds.

But jealousy is also intricately connected to ambition. Denying its existence is to ignore the positive aspect of how much it can be a motivator. My jealous thoughts remind me that I am able of doing something about my situation. I can write another book. I can send out an email or tweet to get more school bookings. I can contact a festival and offer my services. I can bribe a national book award judge with a barrel of fudge. 

OK, so I have never done this last one, but my point is that, although jealousy is an unattractive quality, pretending that it isn’t there, will not make it vanish. The way I have learned (and am still learning) to deal with it is to acknowledge that it’s there, understand why it’s there, and try to find a positive side to it.

Inch and Grub (Alastair Chisholm and David Roberts) sees its two eponymous cavemen heroes coming up with increasingly impressive inventions as their competitive jealousy spurs them on.

The moral of this caveman story is that ‘stuff’ isn’t what matters, but I think it also shows how these negative feelings can lead to positive action. I do my best to hide my jealousy (except for when I’m writing a blog about it) but I also accept that it is a part of me and a part of life online. So long as it’s kept in check, it can fuel invention and motivate us to create. 

Gareth P Jones' brand new picture book, Cinder Gorilla, illustrated by Loretta Schauer is published this September by Farshore Books.


Monday 16 August 2021

Could it be… ADHD? ADHD and writing by Juliet Clare Bell

I have a terrible confession to make about Picture Book Den. So... we take it in turns to write blogposts each week and there’s a rota of who goes when…

only I don’t know where that rota is

…which means I don’t know when I’m meant to post. Which means I periodically get a heart-stopping moment where I think ‘oh no [though much less politely], it might be my turn and I’ve forgotten (again)’ -but I don’t think the thought through properly enough in the run-up to the Monday when someone posts (and ignore that nagging feeling), I think it on the Monday… but I have an almost pathological fear of checking to find the rota to see if I’m right (that I’ve missed my date). 

Sounds ridiculous, right? Because it is. Why don't I just write the dates on a calendar? And why would I choose to stick my head in the sand and NOT check the dates when I know that I haven't posted for ages? 

And yet I do it time and time again. When someone else posts on a Monday, I breathe a sigh of relief as it can't have been my week after all...  Over the years, I’ve occasionally remembered to write down my dates for the whole year onto my calendar which means I’ll get them in on time for that year -(IF I’ve remembered to look at my calendar regularly, of course) but mostly I don’t. And so, shamefully, I am reminded when I’ve already missed my deadline. It’s not that I don’t want to do it. I love being in the Picture Book Den. I’m only posting this because shame thrives on secrets (thank you, Brene Brown). I’ve got plenty of terrible confessions I could make about opportunities missed because I have huge difficulties prioritising anything, and how I can be 98% through a writing task but cannot make myself do the last two percent -for often weeks, or months, or years. But all this confession talk is working up to something that happened about four weeks ago…

It was my Usual Suspects moment (you know, when the big reveal all comes together and it’s like ‘no way! [another realisation]… no way!... [and another] no way! With each additional realisation that you’re suddenly bombarded with, you think. Wow. 





It reminded me of the lightbulb moment in my most recent picture book, Ask First, Monkey! (illustrated by Abigail Tompkins). Monkey gets it wrong time and time again and doesn’t realise what he needs to do in order to work out whether someone wants to be tickled or not. 

(c) Abigail Tompkins (2020)

And then…

                                                         (c) Abigail Tompkins (2020)

The realisation...

                                                            (c) Abigail Tompkins (2020)

It doesn’t mean suddenly that he’s always going to get it completely right and never makes mistakes but it’s that realisation…

I suddenly realised -at the ripe old age of fifty, that 




For three months after a family member suggested that both she and I had it and asked me to do an online test like she’d done I had been in complete denial. I went and did one and the ‘this result strongly suggests you have ADHD’ didn’t even leave me questioning if I had; I simply assumed it wasn’t a good test (though I was totally on board with my family member having it). I took three more tests at various points over the following months (with only the last one feeling in any way like I was doing it to find something out about me and not the wrongness of the test). Obviously everyone must come up looking like they had it. I am similar in my difficulties to quite a few friends and family and surely we didn’t all have it?! Unless, of course, you’re drawn to people with a similar slightly chaotic way of thinking/living…? And unless there’s a large genetic component and actually you might come from an extremely neurodiverse family but you all thought it was just normal (and that it was other people who were different and not you…)  

Instantly, loads of my life made sense for the first time. Before there were so many individual things that I really struggled with but hadn’t put together (really MESSY in real life -no idea how to keep a tidy home, and frantic tidying (or hiding away of mess into various cupboards before anyone comes round), always FORGETTING things, including how not to forget things -like writing things down… (and periodically thinking I'd invented an amazing new device comprising writing down what I was doing on each day before realising, once again, that that was a calendar and I had one -and could use it), not being able to stay FOCUSED -except on certain things (I could do mindless puzzles for hours, or follow some random research thought down a rabbit hole for hours), my whole pattern of work history when I worked in academia…, massive trouble PRIORITISING, having my work in one of nine places (I counted for this post) because of real difficulties ORGANISING anything, being really messy in my writing scribblings, not being able to FOLLOW even the simplest of DIRECTIONS or INSTRUCTIONS, a shockingly bad PROCRASTINATOR, an almost pathological DIFFICULTY FINISHING things. And then I think about our childhood -and, of course! I could go on (and I do, I could talk for ever, and I’d INTERRUPT you loads, too -another thing I’ve not properly realised, or at least admitted to myself, until now) but I won’t.

It’s a bit embarrassing to have been so blindingly unself-aware for so many years (I used to be a research developmental psychologist! I’m a writer! Surely being self-aware is pretty important for those jobs and I’ve seen myself as being a pretty self-aware person, so my pride took a bit of a hit). I had become more aware in some respects over the past twenty years or so -mostly since having children) and this had spilled over into my author visits in a really positive way. We play games around embarrassing moments -doing or saying the wrong thing (of which moments I have a considerably greater than average number) and we talk about why writing is brilliant -because I can be messy, I get to be in charge, I have to let go of perfectionism (for so many years I hated making mistakes and the crippling anxiety that goes with it…), I even do projects with children called ‘I am a work in progress’ and mention about how I was bullied in school for being different, and look good humouredly at all the things I struggled with.

We made a whole book about it! (Thank you to Hallfield Year 4s and 5s)

It was great way of engaging with children and helping them feel better about themselves… And the playing of lots of what if…? games where we go down those crazy rabbit holes and things become ridiculous are loads of fun

 but I still hadn’t put all the pieces together…


In the past, I was very harsh on myself and I all always asked the question

why can’t I do things that normal people can do?

I would berate myself that I could do a PhD (even if each chapter/sub-chapter deadline was scarily last minute and I had to stand up whilst writing for the last three days before I handed the whole thesis in as I knew I’d fall asleep if I sat down to write) but I was completely incapable of keeping a room tidy. I’d be furious at myself and think

What’s wrong with you?!

Even now, keeping a room tidy for a few days feels like a bigger achievement than getting a book published because it feels like I’ve finally, inexplicably gained this secret knowledge of how to be normal... 

And then I lose it again.

So what does this actually mean for writing?

There are parts of writing and related activities that seem to work pretty well for me (the more sociable bits -where I’m with students, or I’m doing school visits -doing, not organising them; the organising and admin around them are very painful). I can come up with really interesting ideas for books and love doing the research parts where I need to. And the fact that I have trouble with sustaining focus whilst working from home means that no one sees me when I do things in tiny bursts of productivity amongst long periods of zoning out. The productivity can be really productive for short bursts and I have to accept that it does work out sometimes as I DO get books published occasionally! And I have had periods with my accountability partner (2020) where lots of things come together and I have what looks and feels like a massive rush of things going right before it all goes extremely quiet again. And actually, when I am commissioned to write books, or get a book deal, I ALWAYS get them in on time. It’s down to the last minute of course (often literally) but I do deliver when I’ve got a firm deadline. But it comes at a personal cost, relying on heaps of adrenaline to make me finish it, and I’ve also missed amazing opportunities because I wasn’t able to prioritise and didn’t turn opportunities into these firm deadlines like publisher deadlines.

But the children’s writing community is lovely (check out SCBWI if you haven't already) and there’s loads of support to be had. I’ve been trying to ‘self-medicate’ with numerous productivity planners and books on getting organised/escaping chaos, and accountability partners and in-person/online write-ins for years without realising it all stems from the same thing. There’s even an ADHD term for the write-ins and similar meetings up: using a body double, where you get someone to be in the same room as you whilst you’re doing something you find difficult to do. The other person doesn’t help you; they’re just there. I find it really hard to get started and to finish things, so having people around makes getting started much easier. And I have a wonderful accountability partner (a fellow picture book author). Now she knows, she’s going to hold me accountable for some of the things I find unbearably difficult -by being my body double. I have about one hour of paperwork I need to do for part of my job each week that’s really simple if you do it straightaway but I have an almost pathological dread of doing it straightaway, so it then takes three or four times as long to do it later. From now on, my accountability partner and I will stay on our zoom call for an hour after our weekly accountability session and she’ll do whatever work she’s working on and I’ll specifically do the thing I can’t bear to do -which is actually a really easy task if there’s someone there.

And soon (pandemic permitting) I'll start back with some in-person write-ins in a local cafe. With write-ins, there’s an element of not wanting to look bad by not writing anything and feeling less inclined to look online as someone will see me, but it’s actually much more than that. My totally illogical anxiety involved in actually getting it started just isn’t there.

I’d really recommend body doubling for reading, too, if you struggle to read, or finish a book. My children asked to read together (not out loud, but silently, in the same space) over lockdown, and it’s actually got me back into reading in a way I haven’t read for over 25 years. I’ve probably given up on five books for every one that I’ve finished when I’m reading them for myself, and the ones I’ve read are mostly young adult books where they’re designed to get you engaged from the first page. I read so much as a child and I absolutely love it again now. Our reading sessions together are highlights of my week.

I realise I’ve written plenty of blogposts relating to aspects of this (especially on procrastination and motivation) and each time it feels that it’s the start of something new (I am an eternal optimist), but it’s different now (no, really!). There’s a difference between thinking something is helpful and knowing it’s necessary. ADHD isn’t an excuse for anything I’ve done (or not done) or do (or not do), but it’s an explanation and I feel like I’m arming myself with knowledge that will equip me really well for writing -and life!- in the future. Self-awareness is always good when writing authentically, and knowledge about a whole person approach (including good sleep, exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, specific strategies for prioritising, making lists, using a calendar consistently, setting loads of alarms to remind me to do things, etc. and possibly stimulant medication) is a really positive step.

One of the biggest changes in my thinking over the past few weeks is about raising my expectations. I’m naturally a happy person. I am daily extremely grateful for my life and family and friends. But in order to decide that this wasn’t a huge personality flaw (to believe that I wasn’t lazy and stupid and selfish) and to accept myself for who I am, I did lower expectations of myself quite significantly about ten years ago. If laziness wasn’t the reason I wasn’t writing as much as most writers (and why I had a messy house) then there wasn’t much I could do about it except accept it. I actually didn’t want to have much more going on writing-wise because I didn’t think I’d be able to cope with the extra workload. But that’s all changed. I feel like I want to do more, now -because if I use the right strategies and get the right support then it’s not an alarming thought to think of having more deadlines from editors. And imagine if I managed to get organised enough to do the right kind of publicity for my books? And if I sorted out a system for doing author visits that didn’t feel like the admin was so grim that it might not be worth it (and where I could do that admin with a kind body double who was just getting on with her work on skype whilst I finished my admin?). (And what about a calm, tidy house?! Now that would be something…)

Waiting lists are notoriously long so I haven’t got an official diagnosis yet (believe me, I’ve refrained from including the dozens of personal stories which would make it feel like I didn’t need to wait for a diagnosis to know!) but apart from stimulant medication which I may or may not try, I can start doing all the other things now. It’s going to be a life-long process (we’re all a work in progress after all...), but I’m enormously relieved and really excited. Next fifty years here I come. And as for the picture book den deadlines? I’m going to find the dates tomorrow and write a year’s worth onto my online calendar which I’m going to check every day. I’ve even set the alarm (with accompanying label) to do it…  

Are you a writer with ADHD (I’m guessing there are quite a lot of writers out there!)? If you have any tips for writing with ADHD, please share them below. Many thanks.

Juliet Clare Bell (always called Clare) can be found at www.julietclarebell, though oddly enough, her website needs updating...


Monday 9 August 2021



One of the reasons I love picture books, is because there is such a fantastic range – from funny to heartfelt to educational and everything in between, there really is something to suit every kind of writer. This Picture Book Den post is going to focus on an exciting subgenre of picture books that feels particularly popular at the moment, with just as much variety – narrative non-fiction picture books. (Plus, there's an exciting cover reveal at the end!)


What is a Narrative Non-fiction picture book?

Just like any strictly fictional text, a narrative non-fiction picture book is a story first and foremost. There might be facts before the story (front matter), facts at the end of the story (back matter), facts throughout… but the primary focus is on engaging characters and a satisfying plot.

This is different from illustrated non-fiction in a picture book format, where text might be arranged by headings, subheading or chapters and can be read out of order.

Here are some of my current favourite examples of narrative non-fiction texts. As you can see, there’s a massive range in style, presentation and topic:

The Spacesuit (Alison Donald, Ariel Landy)

The Spacesuit is a narrative non-fiction picture book inspired by the seamstresses who made the spacesuit for US astronauts in the Apollo missions headed for the moon, based on the life of Ellie Foraker. It includes timelines, fact boxes and facts intertwined in the narrative. Alison is also the author of A Super Sticky Mistake – the story of how Harry Coover invented super glue – another great narrative non-fiction picture book (illustrated by Rhea Zhai).

Amara and the Bats (Emma Reynolds)

In this narrative non-fiction text, environmental activism gets a nocturnal twist! Amara and the Bats is Emma Reynold’s debut picture book as an author-illustrator. It’s the story of a little girl who loves bats and is sad when she moves to a new town and finds that bats no longer live there due to loss of habitat. She is inspired by real life youth climate activists to take action and rallies her friends to save the bats! There are bat facts weaved in throughout the story, and lots of fantastic practical steps to take action and help bats in the back, too.


They All Saw A Cat (Brendan Wenzel)

They All Saw a Cat explores what a cat might look like from the perspectives of various animals' points of view. It’s simple in delivery but powerful in concept. I’ve never seen anything like it! There is no front matter or back matter, but the illustrated way the animals perceive the cat is true to life and really makes you think.

The Amazing Scientist Series (Julia Finley Mosca, D. Reiley, Brendan Wenzel) I’m crossing my fingers that this series of books keeps expanding. The texts explore some of the world’s most amazing female scientists. In addition to the facts there’s a complete biography, colourful timeline and a personal note from the featured artist. These ones are in rhyme, too.

Poo! Is That You? / Wee? It Wasn’t Me! (Clare Helen Welsh, Nicola O’Byrne)

Here are two of my most recent narrative non-fiction texts. Lenny the Lemur is on holiday, first in the Amazon and next in Alaska, when he comes across an unfortunate problem that needs solving. He learns lots of interesting animal facts as he does. The third in this mini-series is slime-based and will be publishing in 2022.

Where did Narrative Non-fiction come from?

The recent rise in narrative non-fiction appears to have come from the US, where invention stories and biography picture books for 3-7yr olds are booming, but blending fact and fiction together in picture book format is not new.

Simon James’ books were a firm favourite in my classroom when I taught as an early years teacher, especially Sally and the Limpet. It’s the story of a little girl who gets a limpet stuck to her finger, and has a gentle message of caring for sea creatures intertwined into a funny and fantastical tale.  Dear Greenpeace, also by Simon James, sees the main character (and reader) learn about humpback whales all through letter format. Again, there’s a lovely mix of fact and humour.

I’m pretty certain narrative non-fiction wasn’t a ‘thing’ when these books were made, but the advantage of adding subtle educational layers to picture books has always been clear. It’s a real selling point for gatekeepers when a text has the potential to impact on young readers long after the last page has turned and when it can be used a springboard for future learning.


Tips for writing Narrative Non-fiction:

Research – Once you have identified your narrative non-fiction concept and suitable ‘way in’, next must come more detailed research. Whilst narrative non-fiction is a story first and foremost, the facts still need to be accurate. Use reliable, first-hand sources where possible, and try to back up each fact with at least three pieces of credible research. It might be possible to link with museums, organisations or contact family members.


Presentation of Facts –Decide whether your facts are going to be presented as fact boxes throughout, as front matter, back matter, an author’s note, whether they will be interwoven into the narrative or a mixture of these.

In my funny Lenny stories, Poo! Is that you? and Wee? It Wasn’t Me! the facts are incorporated into the character’s dialogue and reinforced with fun facts at the end.


In my lyrical non-fiction with Nosy Crow, the facts are interwoven into the narrator voice and consolidated with facts in the back matter. It publishes next month and is illustrated by none other than the winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2019, Jenny Lovlie. The story follows a young Arctic tern as she embarks on her annual migration to the Southern hemisphere in search of an endless summer. Children can learn about lots of other animals that also leave their homes for an warmer one. You can take a look inside here: Take a look inside Time to Move South for the Winter - Nosy Crow

In my re-imagining of Cinderella, inspired by the life and work of Lotte Reinger, the factual content is presented in an author note at the end of the book. (Cover reveal at the end of this post!)

In The Spacesuit by Alison Donald and Ariel Landy, the facts are intertwined with the plot but also presented as fact boxes throughout.

Narrative non-fiction picture texts to look out for:

There are some really exciting narrative non-fiction books on the horizon, some due for publication soon. Here’s a look at a couple!

Every Bunny is a Yoga Bunny is a funny, reassuring picture book story about yoga, mindfulness and finding calm, from debut author Emily Ann Davison and award-winning illustrator Deborah Allwright. Yo-Yo is a fidgety, bouncy, can’t-sit-still-EVER type of bunny. Even Grandpa’s yoga class won’t stop her wiggling and giggling! But when Yo-Yo finds herself lost in the deep, dark, shadowy forest, maybe Grandpa’s yoga will help her find the way home . . . With simple yoga step-by-step instruction in the narrative and some poses at the end to practise, children can stretch, breathe and feel calm with Yo-Yo.


And I hope it's ok to announce my real-life inspired story publishing this November with Andersen Press. Described as Cinderella meets paper-cutting, with a strong feminist twist,’  the story is based on the life and work of German film director Lotte Reiniger.

‘Lotte doesn’t believe in happy endings. She lives with her horrible, bossy sisters and her only friends are the exquisite cut-out paper puppets she makes by the light of the moon. But when an invitation to the Palace Spring Ball arrives on their doorstep, Lotte sees her chance to change her life for ever...

This is a Cinderella re-imagining with a difference where forceful individuality and talent create happy endings not fairy tale magic. Whilst the story is fictional, it was inspired by a real life individual and features an author note at the end. Laura Barrett, whose style is also inspired by Reiniger, is the very wonderful illustrator who has done the most fantastic job bringing the text to life - the artwork is so detailed and there are some wonderful surprises inside. Finally, here is her fantastic cover! 

Publishing 4th November 2021 - You can read and see more of Laura's beautiful artwork here Laura Barrett Illustration

If you didn’t love narrative non-fiction picture books before, I hope you do now! Just like in fiction, there’s a huge range; poetic, scientific, silly, serious – something for everyone! Narrative non-fiction texts can cover subjects such as biographies, inventions, events in history, animal adaptations, scientific phenomenon… anything you feel passionate about and that you think would entertain a child. Nothing is off limits if you can find the right age-appropriate angle.


Happy writing!

BIO: Clare is a children's writer from Devon. She writes fiction and non-fiction picture book texts - sometimes funny and sometimes lyrical. Her first book was published in 2015, and she currently has books in development with Little Tiger Press, Quarto, Andersen, Nosy Crow and MacMillan. Her next narrative non-fiction picture book, 'Time to Move South For Winter,' comes out in just a few weeks and has been illustrated by Jenny Lovlie. She also has her first book with Andersen, Scissorella, publishing in November, which is another life-inspired tale. It has been beautifully illustrated by Laura Barrett. You can find out more about Clare at her website or on Twitter @ClareHelenWelsh.

Monday 2 August 2021

How to Edit A Picture Book Without Cutting Trees by Chitra Soundar

A long time ago when I started writing picture books, I learnt about making dummies before I heard about storyboarding. Either way, both picture book dummies and storyboarding felt too "arty" for me, because I had no art skills. I can barely doodle, or use any craft supplies. Even today! Almost 10 years from when I started, most of my drawing skills are still basic.

But I'm from a software background and if you worked in the corporate world, you'd know that using a presentation software can make or break your career. I was well-versed in Microsoft Powerpoint even then and even more now and sometimes I stray into Keynote (on Macs) as well.

If you are like me and cannot draw and also find it extremely sad to print two lines on a sheet of paper to fold it in, to make picture book dummies, here is my guide to making them on a computer, definitely more eco-friendly.

Check if your PC has Microsoft PowerPoint. Your Mac will definitely have Keynote. You can also use Google Slides which is free.

A - Create a presentation of your story

Step 1: Start the presentation software and open a blank presentation.

Step 2: The first slide always comes up as a title slide. That’s what you need too. Enter the title of the book and the author name here. There is a huge positive boost to your self-confidence when you actually type in the title and your name as the author. {Protip: This works brilliantly in kids' workshops too}

Step 3: Insert a new slide and choose the simplest layout - a blank one.

Step 4: Repeat 11-14 times. UK picture book stories are usually told in 12 spreads. US publishers often allow up to 15 spreads.

{Protip: Have as many spreads as you want, that's the beauty of using the software. Then you can cut down, move text around to see how it lands. You can copy and save two versions - one with 12 spreads and one with 15 spreads}

{Pro Protip: If your story throughline is too thin or your idea doesn't have sufficient story weight, you won't be able to fill 12 spreads with "things that will happen." So creating 12 blank sides gives you an understanding of the work involved.}

Step 5:  Cut and paste text into each slide from your word document (if you've already typed it up) or from your notebook if you've already written it.

I usually write my first drafts on paper then transfer them into a document. And then if I can't get the story structure to work or unsure of something, I'll create a presentation and cut and paste to see how it all lays out.

{Protip: Don't start in the presentation software. Use it as an editing tool. Tell the story to yourself and then to the reader as many times as possible and then use this tool to help you plan the pacing and structure.}

So now you have a presentation, with a title slide and 12 slides after each representing a spread in your picture book.

[CAUTION! Save your presentation as often as you can!]

Step 6: View the story as a slideshow - click through it or set it on a timer. But watch it unfold.

{Protip: Use transitions that mimic page turns just for fun! }

So in the above six steps, you've created a different perspective into your picture book. It's another way similar to reading aloud.

B - Review your story

As you are clicking through your story, what should you be watching out for?

  1. You will see whether some part of the story is too slow and some of it is rushed, ie, pacing.
  2. This step will also reveal if your page-turns are working. Do you have a surprise before or after a page-turn? Is there enough anticipation before a reveal?
  3. You will see if one spread has more text while others have none. But this is sometimes deliberate while other times, it's a symptom of a pacing issue.
  4. How many clicks does it take to get to the actual story? How much scene setting are you doing?
  5. How quickly did the story end? Was there an Aaah! moment when the page turned?
  6. Now that all the 11-12 spreads have been clicked, can you think of a surprise ending at the last click? Can there be a joke, a twist, an image that will sum up the theme?
After the above things have been checked, you will have an idea of what changes you might have to do.

There are two options now:
a) Go back to your notebook, document and rewrite the story and come back to the presentation to do another edit.

b) Edit the story in the presentation and then of course you can export it later.

C - How to revise a story in your presentation software

How to figure out what to edit and how to edit it?

Descriptions: Often picture book writers put in descriptions that will not be needed when the illustrations are completed. Sometimes the descriptions are required to communicate plot and sometimes it's just a way to translate the story the writer sees in their head.

A good picture book is a marriage of text and pictures and hence it will help to see that working in your drafts as well.


In every spread (slide) you see descriptions that are not required, a blue car, a big house etc, try and add images to the slide.

{Protip:You can cut and paste illustrations from google images and then read to see if you still need the words on the page. }

The story must still work without the adjectives and exposition. The story will finish its circuit in the reader's head. So only write those descriptions that you have to be specific about.

For example, if the car has to be red for plot purposes, then add red in the story. Otherwise just say car and let the reader imagine their own favourite colours. The illustrator can suggest their own visuals to help the reader too.

SetupDo you need an elaborate setup for your story? Go through the presentation again and see how many clicks does it take to get to the "inciting" incident in the story? There is no right or wrong. There is no golden rule. The setup should be as long as necessary for the story.

So keep cycling through the presentation by hiding the exposition slide and see if the story still works. Doesn't work? Sure, unhide your slide. Do you realise you don't need it? Delete that slide (and the text from your story).

ORDER OF EVENTS:  As you click through the presentation, keep thinking if there is a causal effect of one slide to another. This happened and so this happened... If not, think about whether there should be. Again, there is no golden rule, there is no right or wrong. You just have to see if you need to connect the dots for the incidents and make them build upon each other.

Go to slide-sorter in your presentation and see the 30000 feet view.

Now move things around if you need to and if you can. Edit the transition sentences when you move around the slides / spreads.



Page-turns are cliff-hangers in picture book parlance. Young children (often 3-5 years of age), should want to turn the page and see what's on the next page. So often sentences are not fully finished in a spread, they reveal a surprise when you turn the page. See if there is enough anticipation in the text that motivates the reader to ask questions like

a) Who do you think?

b) What's going to happen?

c) What will it be?

Page-turns are also good devices to setup causal effect. This happened and so.... turn the page to see what happened next.

  {Protip: Hide some slides, edit the text, move around slides - see how the flow works each time by clicking through the entire presentation.}


Ideally by clicking through the slides you will be able to check for the following:

        1. How soon do I know who the protagonist is?
        2. How quickly will I find out what they want?
        3. How soon is something fun going to happen?
        4. How much build-up there is to the centre-spread where everything goes BOOM?
        5. How quickly did the ending come? Was it satisfactory or did I need a slow-down page for the young reader to take in what just happened?
        6. Is there a tag or a button at the end - ie, is there a funny twist or an extra aaah moment after I've turned the last spread?

{Protip:Count the slides and the clicks, move things around including text. Build the anticipation using page-turns and make sure the middle spread (say around 6/7th) has a big scene that the illustrator can have fun with. }