Oh the elusive perfect picture book! We want our picture books for children to be accessible to young readers yet appealing to the adults who are reading them, fresh yet somehow familiar, and interesting enough to be unforgettable. In other words, we want to find the pulse of the story, where it connects to its heart. What is it about this story that makes it feel ‘alive’ to readers? Maya Angelou has said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” ‘Heart’ is how we feel. Locating the pulse-point, and writing from there, helps our story matter to a reader.
In this workshop (open to writers at all levels), we will search for the pulse of stories and consider the ways that other writers, and we, too, can write stories with heart. We will look at classic texts as well as wonderful new picture books that resonate with readers of all ages. We’ll use what we learn. Participants should bring twelve copies of a current picture book manuscript or 2-5 pages of poetry (800 words maximum) to the workshop. The emphasis of our weekend’s work will be on process as we learn, through critique and conversation, how to strengthen our stories and our poems. We hope also to generate some new writing during our time together through exercises and free-writing.
Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of twenty-one picture books for children, including the Caldecott Award-winning Snowflake Bentley. She is the author of two 2017 picture books—Creekfinding (University of Minnesota Press, illustrated by Claudia McGehee) and Roy Choi and the Street Food Re-mix (Readers To Eaters; co-authored with June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One). Martin is on the faculty of Hamline University’s M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program.