major award winning Children's Author

Pencil Tip #16: Illustration directions in picture books

Hello, fans of writing and large extinct beasts. I thought I’d share this link to a special interview with me and illustrator Kate Hindley on the creation of HOW TO WASH A WOOLLY MAMMOTH. It gives a bit of an insight into giving illustration directions when you write a picture book manuscript. It’s something I’m often asked about by people who are starting to write picture books and who aren’t sure how to submit their visual ideas.

On the whole, I’d say try not to put directions in unless they’re absolutely needed. Of course that’s quite often the case in picture books as what the text says can be the polar opposite of what’s happening in the picture! Still, just say enough to get the idea across, don’t gild the lily. That’s the illustrator’s job, and you want to leave them plenty of space to add their own ideas. If you’re too prescriptive they won’t enjoy working on your book – and trust me, it’ll show. [Knowing eyebrow raise]