This is an excellent starting point. I applaud you for already putting your imagination to work. It’s exciting isn’t it, that feeling when you have a little kernel of gold in your mind that you feel sure will turn into something wonderful?
I’m afraid having the idea is the easy part. Building that idea into something takes work. But you’re prepared for that, right?
Ninety-nine time out of a hundred, an idea will wither on the vine, not because it’s a bad idea, but because the writer doesn’t know how to nurture it. When the first flush of excitement passes, you can’t see where it goes next. You struggle to visualise the span of your book. You can’t make your characters sound the way you want, or look the way you imagined. Your story only stretches to one page and you don’t know how to fatten it up. This is as true for experienced writers as it is for those just starting out. I would hazard a guess that every published author in the field of children’s books has a drawer full of unfinished stories and half-sketched ideas that simply didn’t go anywhere. You are in good company.
“A parent saw a child drawing a horse, and it was purple. The parent asked the child, “Why are you drawing a purple horse? I’ve never seen purple horses.” To which the child replied, “How sad for you.”
I kick off with this quote in Get Started in Writing an Illustrated Children’s Book. I can’t remember who said it, but it’s stayed in my head for around twenty-five years, and so naturally I had to use it. Seeing purple horses has always struck me as a vital aspect of being a children’s writer.
It doesn’t specifically have to be a purple horse. It could be a shape in the fog, a tree masquerading as a ship, Bishop Brennan’s face in the skirting board. A log that might be a guinea pig if you squint. Something which proves that your brain is malleable and open to alternatives.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen? Could it be the start of a story?
Get Started in Writing an Illustrated Children’s Book, publishing November 2016.
“The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.” Jim Henson
How important is it, as a children’s writer, to remember what life was like as a child? I’m devoting a whole chapter of GET STARTED IN WRITING ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN’S FICTION (publishing November 2015) to this question.
Before she adopted her daughter, children’s author/illustrator Lauren Child was often asked how she could create children’s books if she had no children of her own. She used to make the important point that we don’t have to have children to understand them; we were all once children ourselves.
How many of us can remember those days? How many of us want to?