Writing Picture Books

Writing Picture Books

Create memorable stories for the youngest of readers

This course is ideal for: Anyone who wants to write a picture book that publishers and kids adore

You will:
Learn about the picture book industry
Create characters children will love
Use language and rhythm to tell your story
Receive direct feedback on your own writing
Get guidance on publishing and illustrations

“I never realised HOW MUCH went into a picture book story. The course was very informative and helpful. If you have a dream to write a picture book, start here first.”
– Jacqueline Tjorpatzis






Starts Monday 24 June 2019 , Any time during the week
5 weeks (Allow 3-4 hours per week)
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Writing Picture Books is also offered in our SydneyMelbourne, Brisbane and Perth classrooms.


Writing Picture Books

Five-week online course – an overview

In this online course, you’ll discover what you need to do to turn your story idea into a real picture book that kids— and their parents— will love to read. (Don't worry if you don't yet have a story idea – you'll likely be inspired as you complete the course!)

What is it that makes popular picture books so magical? How do you really know what appeals to children? Writing a picture book that publishers want is an art. But there are clear guidelines you can follow.

You'll unlock a module full of lessons each week and complete a small assignment due each Sunday night – plus receive direct feedback from your online tutor – an expert in the world of picture books.

Lessons include:

  1. The big picture (book)

    What is a children’s picture book? You’ll explore many examples of children’s picture books and how the text and illustrations should work together. Understanding the format will help you understand the kinds of topics children are interested in, the word length and the pace of your story. You’ll receive feedback on a 3-part comparison writing exercise.

  2. Structure, pace, action and more

    In this module, you’ll look at the constraints and joys of writing for the 32-page format common to picture books. You’ll discover how to write an opening with regard to characterisation and emotion. And explore turning points, climaxes and resolutions. You’ll also learn about point of view and “show, don’t tell”. Your tutor will provide feedback on a piece you create in close focus point-of-view using a clear main character.

  3. Technique, self-editing and troubleshooting

    Learn how to plan your text for a double-page spread. This module will look at invisible punctuation – something unique to the picture book format. Once you understand the pace and structure of the format, you can focus on the action and emotional resonance, plus core themes which drive a picture book. You’ll receive feedback on an original story assignment.

  4. Language, word choice and rhythm

    In this module, you’ll look at poetic text to make your prose sparkle. You’ll also learn about some common traps for new picture book authors and discuss how to polish and edit your work. You’ll discover how different voices and reading patterns can change the rhythm and meaning of your work, as well as how to use noises and onomatopoeia, repetitive texts and more. You’ll receive tutor feedback on another original story assignment.

  5. The publishing process

    In this final week, you’ll learn how to submit your manuscript to a publisher, what to expect when working with an editor, and some legal and financial aspects. We’ll also share some great ways to keep in touch with the industry and its new trends. You’ll have the opportunity to bring together all of the skills you’ve learned and apply them to your own original story (including marketing blurbs) and receive valuable tutor feedback.

For this online course, you should be familiar with the following picture books (available at libraries or bookstores):

  • Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt, illustrated by Tricia Tusa
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
  • Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

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Shelly Unwin completed Writing Picture Books

“If it wasn’t for this course I would most likely have started submitting and wondering why nothing was sticking. We learnt so much about the conventions of structuring a story, and identified the patterns in successful stories. We looked at pace, rhythm and cadence, voice and characterisation. It was all tremendously valuable. It was a really great course, I learnt what I didn’t know, and there’s so much that you don’t know about writing picture books, it’s such a craft. From reading a picture book it looks so simple, it’s only when you start to explore what’s involved that you learn how much there is to it. Go NOW and sign up!"

– Shelly Unwin, published picture book author

“Is this course for me?”

Writing Picture Books does not require any artistic skills (although if you have them, good for you!). It is a course in storytelling for anyone keen to explore this magical genre. People like these:

Enjoy the benefits of your online classroom

  • This course gives you access to your own online classroom, where you’ll be able to connect with other classmates and share your stories with each other in a supportive environment – with people who share your passion!
  • Your class also has its own online tutor – on hand and online for any questions you may have and to provide personal feedback on your work. Our tutors are experienced experts with years of knowledge to draw on. They’re your secret weapon!
  • Each Monday we’ll release a new learning module in the form of audio lessons, along with handouts and other resources. You can choose to save the audio and listen to it later – perhaps during your favourite walk or in the commute in the car. It’s up to you!
  • A fan of 9am starts? Easy. 2pm before the kids get home? Sure. 10pm? 5am? You choose the time and place that best suits you schedule. A practical weekly assignment (assessed by your tutor) will help you stay on track and gauge your progress along the way.

Ongoing story and publishing support

Writing Picture Books provides you with all the foundation skills you need to start creating fantastic picture book stories. And when you feel your story is ready to take to the next level, our Writing Picture Book Masterclass will cast an expert eye over your work. It’s the polish and publication advice all good stories need!

By the end of this online course you will have:

KNOWLEDGE: There’s a surprising amount to learn about the mechanics of putting a picture book together.
CONFIDENCE: Having the skills to create your own stories and knowing the formula is a fantastic thing!
INSPIRATION: Even if you didn’t have ideas before, the online course will help unleash your creativity.
MOTIVATION: The positive support and forward momentum this course offers, along with a continuing online community, will drive you to write your own picture book!

Graduates have gone on to score book deals and work with illustrators on their own picture books. It’s an exciting marketplace to be a part of!

But don’t just take our word for it…

“Do not submit a manuscript until you do this course. Absolutely a must do! I've come away with so much knowledge that I didn't know I needed. It was great fun too! Thank you so much for giving me a fabulous five weeks to try something for myself.”

– Donna Louise Jones

“I never thought I'd say this, but I really enjoyed the homework assignments. They kept my mind in a place I love to be all week long. The tutor was an expert and gave valuable advice on how to improve our writing. Do the course! It will set you free. Thank you Australian Writers' Centre!”

– Kelli Thomas

“It was definitely worth the cost and effort. I picked up so many good resources and it brought some completely new concepts to the table for me. The whole process doesn't feel nearly as daunting and I'm actually now really looking forward to every aspect of writing my story.”

– Alyshia Barnes

“The material and assignments were challenging and yet still manageable with a full-time job and children to care for. My tutor was great – her feedback was to the point and she was very quick to respond to questions. Great online learning environment if you are willing to commit the time.”

– Nikki Macor Heath

Picture an exciting future!

  • Imagine being able to capture the imagination of children.
  • Imagine their wide-eyed wonder as they read their favourite stories.
  • Imagine … writing those stories yourself!

Enrol in this online course today and unlock a new world of picture book storytelling … you won’t regret it!

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Writing Picture Books is also offered in our SydneyMelbourne, Brisbane and Perth classrooms.