Writing Picture Books

Learn to create memorable stories across two days in Melbourne

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

“It was so nice to be in a classroom with like-minded people and to have the chance to ask questions in a ‘safe’ place. Good value for money, great location, great tutor. Recommend!”
– Vikki Marmaras, Writing Picture Books graduate

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Key information
Key information:
This course will be held at Abbotsford Convent.

This course will be held at Abbotsford Convent.

Next course date:
Saturday 23 March 2024

Next course date:
Saturday 23 March 2024

2 consecutive days

2 consecutive days


Writing Picture Books

2-day weekend workshop – an overview

In this exciting and inspiring weekend, 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 receive plenty of inspiration across the two days!)

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.

Across both days, you will work through lessons that cover the fundamentals of writing picture books and will have the opportunity to ask your presenter any questions along the way.

Day 1

The big picture (book)

What is a children’s picture book? To begin the weekend, you’ll explore examples of children’s picture books and how the text and illustrations should work together. As a class, you’ll discover the topics, themes and emotions that drive these stories.

Structure, pace, action and more

You will look at page count – in particular the constraints and joys of writing for the 32-page format common to picture books. You’ll discover how to write a “3-act structure”, and understand turning points, climaxes and resolutions. You’ll also learn about planning techniques, point of view and “show, don’t tell” and how to create clear main characters.

Technique, self-editing and trouble-shooting

Rounding out day 1, you’ll learn some key author secrets that will elevate your story – including ‘the rule of three’. As a class, you’ll look at various picture book formats and go through the suggested writing process and tips on editing your own work.


We suggest setting aside some time Saturday evening to complete a small assignment, to cement what you’ve learnt on day 1.

Day 2

Language, word choice and rhythm

Now it’s time to 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 writing. Plus discover how different voices and reading patterns can change the rhythm and meaning of your work, as well as how to use onomatopoeia, repetitive texts, page breaks and ‘invisible punctuation’. As a class, you will look at the work of some of the greats: Julia Donaldson and Lynley Dodd.

The publishing process

In this final part of the weekend, you’ll learn “what makes a great picture book?” – how to submit your manuscript to a publisher, what to expect when working with an editor, and some legal and financial aspects. You’ll gain some great ways to research the industry and discover new trends. Finally, you’ll bring together all of the skills you’ve learnt and apply them to your own story, including editing and marketing blurbs, and leave with plenty of resources to continue your learning.

Learn at The Abbotsford Convent

Our Melbourne training centre provides you with access to world-class presenters and practical, inspirational lessons.

You’ll find us in the historic Abbotsford Convent – a vibrant artistic precinct made up of galleries, studios, eateries and creative spaces.


1 St Heliers Street
Abbotsford VIC 3067

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

Penny Morrison
Graduate of Australian Writers' Centre

Victoria Mackinlay Graduate of Australian Writers' Centre, author of Ribbit Rabbit Robot
Freda Chiu Graduate of Australian Writers' Centre, author of A Trip To The Hospital

"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:

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!

Meet your presenter

Judith Rossell is a full-time writer and illustrator of children's books. Over the past 15 years, she has written more than 10 books and illustrated more than 80. Her work has been translated into 16 languages. Judith's latest books are Wakestone HallWormwood Mire and Withering-by-Sea, three Victorian fantasy-adventure novels for young readers. Withering-by-Sea won the Indie Award for Children and Young Adults, the Australian Book Industry Award for Older Children, and was shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards and the Aurealis Awards.


Q: I'm a complete beginner. Is this course right for me?
A: You’ve come to EXACTLY the right place! Most students have simply read a lot of picture books (to themselves or to their kids) and that’s all the experience that is required.

Q: What do you mean exactly when you say “picture books”?
A: This course is all about how to write illustrated books for children under five. They're typically 500 words or fewer.

Q: Do I need to have a story idea?
A: Not at all. This course will teach the techniques to writing great stories, but you don’t need one at the start. Although it's quite common to have stacks of story ideas by the end!

Q: Do I need to have illustration skills?
A: Absolutely not. This is all about being an amazing author – publishers will normally match stories to an illustrator so it’s not something you need to worry about. (Of course if you ARE a good illustrator, this course will give you both skills!)

Q: How many others will be in the class – and are they all experienced writers?
A: The weekend workshop is a supportive learning environment and we purposefully keep classes small to make everyone more comfortable (no more than approx 16 per class). Everyone is there to learn and no experience is necessary, so you don't need to worry about being out of your depth.

Q: Do you have courses that focus on writing books for older children?
A: We sure do. Our Writing Chapter Books for 6-9 year olds course is great if you'd like to write a book series for young readers, and our How to Write for Children and Young Adults covers everything from middle grade (8-12) through to teen YA novels. Complete all three and become the ultimate triple-threat children’s author!

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 creative 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…

“Jude was a wonderful presenter and her enthusiasm and encouragement made for a great space, especially when sharing work. The attendees were fantastic. It was great to meet like-minded people and the entire weekend inspired me.”

– Emma Armstrong
(completed in Melbourne)

“I am a mature person, a very beginner writer and I was concerned everyone would be far too advanced for me. This was not the case. I felt very comfortable. I felt very nurtured and supported by Judith and the group. I never once felt anxious about sharing my ideas or writing.”

– Meegan Hall
(completed in Melbourne)

“The exercises and writing prompts were excellent. It was a very encouraging and supportive environment. I was very impressed by Judith. She oozed personality, and fun but also took the material seriously. It was a delight to be in her class.”

– Suzanne Nicholas
(completed in Melbourne)

“I was not expecting to walk away as motivated and excited as I did. I think Judith was fantastic. She was friendly and open to everyone in the course. Give it a go. You can't go wrong with such a well-structured and informative course.”

– Tiffany Stute
(completed in Melbourne)

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 weekend workshop today and unlock a new world of picture book storytelling … you won’t regret it!

Key information
Key information:
This course will be held at Abbotsford Convent.

This course will be held at Abbotsford Convent.

Next course date:
Saturday 23 March 2024

Next course date:
Saturday 23 March 2024

2 consecutive days

2 consecutive days


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