How to Write a Picture Book

123 TUTOR: Tessa Strickland

A picture book is a child's first theatre. It is also a gateway into undiscovered worlds and a resource that lasts well beyond childhood. Join the tutor, co-founder of Barefoot Books and a bestselling author, and learn how to write a picture book yourself. You will look at leading examples and there will be many opportunities for you to put pen to paper and develop your own ideas. The tutor's teaching style is playful, disciplined and imaginative. You will be aiming to have at least one manuscript by the end of the course and have a lot of fun along the way.

3 AM
AM course

Course Notes


Key Theme: Character Development

How to create convincing characters

Creative writing practice

Title review

Character development strategies


Key Theme: What's the Problem?

Giving your character/s a problem - and an unexpected solution

Creative writing practice

Narrative pace and its impact on storytelling

Escalating the drama


Key Theme: Who's Your Story For?

The child's-eye view

Creative writing practice

How to introduce dramatic irony - title review

Power play! Children outwitting adults


Key Theme: Form, Structure, Pace

The impact and effect of voice (funny, colloquial, formal etc)

Creative writing practice

Giving your story structure - title review

Page extents and page turns - the rule of less is more


Key Theme: Pulling it all Together

The rules of picture book production

Preparing your storyboard

Sharing lessons learnt

Next steps: taking your manuscript to market

Recommended Reading

Joan Aiken The Way to Write for Children

Julia Cameron The Right to Write

Paul Fussell Poetic Meter and Poetic Form

Ed. Vanessa Gebbie Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story

Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones

Kate Grenville The Writing Book

Kenneth Koch Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?

Ursula Le Guin Steering the Craft

Eric Maisel The Creativity Book

Jason Rekulak The Writer's Block

Noah Scalin Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get and Keep your Creativity Flowing

William Strunk and E.B. White The Elements of Style

Ann Whitford Paul Writing Picture Books


Writing is a low-tech activity!

You just need to bring along a large notebook, pencils and pens, and anything else that you think will help inspire you. If you have any favourite picture books you'd like to share, please feel welcome to bring them along too. If you like to work on a laptop, by all means bring this as well.


Course Tutor

Tessa Strickland

About Tessa

Tessa co-founded award-winning independent publisher Barefoot Books in 1992 and was the company's Editor-in-Chief until 2016. She now runs a private psychotherapy practice in Bath and suppports both businesses and individuals working in the arts.  Tessa  brings a lifetime's interest in writing and storytelling for children from age 3 upwards.  This is Tessa's fifth year as a tutor at the summer school.
'Tessa is the true definition of inspiration. She exudes the highest level of intellect, thought, and passion in creating content that has a profound impact' - Jessica Nam Kim, CEO, Ianacare

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM