What I am learning about “WRITING NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOKS”

Today, I will be working on my nonfiction picture books. I’ve been stuck for awhile; not sure how to approach this topic. I’ve read non-fiction picture books over and over and over again. I’ve read about nature, people, and places. And I’ve read books by different authors with different writing styles and different motivation for writing that particular books.

Then I muttered to myself, “You are part of a non-fiction writing group” and “You are always telling new members to browse through the webinars” and “You are always bragging about how wonderful these authors are. So why aren’t you practicing what you preach?”

I then went under the files tab and found a webinar by Kristen McGill Fulton broadcast in September 2013. (This was before I became a member of the group.) So I got my notebook and pen and took notes. Here is what I learned.

1. When you are researching, get 15 index cards and jot 15 different ideas or scenes down as you research. Make sure these ideas and scenes will contribute to your main point.
*Write PIVOTAL story on each card.

2. When you are finish with #1, write a story with beginning, middle, and end. Mix in the 15 scenes and make sure it flows and can paint a picture.

3. TRUE NON-FICTION requires Author’s note and Bibliography pages. (According to Kristen, if you do not have a full page of bibliography citations, then you do not have enough for your research.)

4. Word Count should fall between 750 – 1000. I was told that it can go up to 2000, but Kristen stated the word count range between 750 – 1000.

5. Write in 3rd person. This is difficult for me because I love to use dialog and “I”. However, some publishing houses advise against dialog and “I”. Dialog in non-fiction picture books have to be verifiable. If you find a quote in a reliable source then you can use it. For instance, I am writing about a man who was a fighter. He gave an interview with a newspaper in his hometown. I learned that I can use the quote from that newspaper in my book. That was great to know.

6. When writing about people in non-fiction picture books, there are two ways to do it – 1. A Profile Piece; 2. A Treatment Piece.
*Profile piece is when you write the life of that person, from the day he/she was born, to the day he/she died.
*Treatment piece is when you write a section of that person’s life. Kristen refers to it as “paint a section”. Pick a moment in that person’s life and end the book with the main plot point you wanted to showcase.

7. If you want to include a timeline of that person’s life in the treatment piece, then that is okay.

8. There are four types of non-fiction – BEEF (My mnemonics to remember them) – Biography, Experience, Embellishments, Facts.

Books to read : A BOY CALLED DICKENS, NOAH WEBSTER AND HIS WORDS,

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