A dozen Ways to Generate Picture Book Ideas

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     Most writers know that November was National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Fewer know that it was also Picture Book Idea a Day Month (or PiBoIdMo).

     Started by Tara Lazar,  PiBoIdMo, is a way for picture book writers to join in the fun of a November writing rush. It’s also a great way to get ready for the Picture Book Marathon in February. If you missed PIBoIdMo, but want to prep yourself for a marathon, try some of these ways for generating picture book ideas.

  1. Look up random words in a dictionary and write a sentence that includes that word.
  2. Dig into your family folklore for idea nuggets.
  3. Think about problems kids have.
  4. Look at the school curriculum for the younger grades
  5. Add a twist to old fairy tales, fables and folklore. Rick Walton’s website is a great source for these classics.
  6. Read classic picture books. Can you think of a twist? (For example, Frankenstein, by Rick Walton and Nathan Hale.)
  7. Newspapers and magazines can trigger ideas if you read them with picture books in mind.
  8. Listen to the dialogue of children around you.
  9. Read history books to find picture-book worthy events.
  10. Kristyn Crow suggests taking a multi-syllable word and changing out one of the syllables as inspiration. (Think Zombelina) Or add a prefix like “mega” or a suffix, like “opolis” to a word
  11. Come up with a word for each letter of the alphabet. Use the words on their own for a story trigger or put two unlike ones together (penguins and sun, for instance).
  12. Pictures, paintings, song lyrics, interesting objects like maps—all can be good idea generators.

Thanks to fellow picture book writers Janette and Lana for help with this list. I’d love to add to it. How do you generate story ideas?

This Post Has One Comment

  1. amy

    Excellent list!

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