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Want to Change Your Picture Book into a Short Story?


Here’s How –  In 5 Brief, Basic Steps

Picture Book                   Short Story
Picture created by artist Scene visualised by reader
Scene graphic/visual Words conjure up scene in reader’s mind
Reader instantly enjoys sceneReader must imagine the scene
Strong – often single thread of a story lineAlthough concise, story line can be of a story line more complex, leading to climax or twist
Frequently about what one character wants and obstacleOften strong protagonist and equally
Can be more action-basedStriking antagonist
Pictures must definitely tell the - usually simple – storyCan be more theme-based
 Words must immediately capture reader’s attention; carefully selected words, including 
nouns and verbs, need to sustain reader’s attention; words need to drive story forward to satisfying conclusion.

Take the simple story idea of your picture book, and expand it.

Develop your story.

Create a new seed.

Introduce a new surprise.

Add more ‘meat’ to your climax.

Make your conclusion more complex/satisfying/surprising.


Picture book authors often focus on one specific character trait in their protagonists.

In a short story, the writer can afford to explore the characters in a little more depth.


Clearly, this is just as applicable for a picture book. But as you are using more words in a short story, you have the luxury of experimenting with a range of different words, phrases and sentence lengths.


Once again, this applies to both the picture book and the short story, but as your reader will be journeying with you through your world of words in a short story, you will be leading them through different paragraphs, signalling to them what these paragraphs are about by using topic sentences, and experimenting with different types of phrases and sentences.

Whether you choose to write a picture book or a short story, enjoy creating your little piece of magic for your readers.

A personal note: When I was converting some picture books to short stories for young adults, I found that some transformations went extremely well, but others, not so well. Some picture books just refused to mould themselves into short stories, and were better left just as they were – as picture books. Two examples of mine (as yet unpublished manuscripts trying to find a home), are ‘The Biggest Blessing’ (presently being assessed by a particular publisher…I’m holding thumbs, as this is a story very close to my heart) and ‘The Rainbow Game’ (which has had a couple of bites, but not from publishers offering traditional contracts).

 I’d love to hear from fellow authors who’ve had similar experiences. If you’d like to get in touch with your stories, go to my contacts page or send me an email.

HAPPY WRITING…in whatever genre…

Breath of God by Gillian Leggat
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The Diamond Pathway by Gillian Leggat
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