Leaving Room

When writing picture book texts have you ever heard the following advice?  

‘You must leave room for the illustrations.’
I know I have.  As a largely intuitive person, I have soaked in the knowledge from classes, conferences, workshops, and reading slowly over time. I can compare my picture book texts from two years ago to texts from today and see a difference — more room.
So how can you achieve this in your own writing? Here’s a few things that have worked for me.
1) Reading at least 30-40+ classic & new picture books.
     I don’t just mean flip through the pages, get the general gist of the story, and the add it to your ‘read’ pile.  I mean really read the story.  Put yourselves in a child’s shoes.  Read each page aloud, and then stop to enjoy the illustrations on each page.  How are those illustrations adding to the story? Do they make you feel happy or sad? Do they make you laugh?  Do they make you want to turn the page and find out what happens next?  
2)  Break your picture book text up into scenes, and create a storyboard.
     I am not an Author//Illustrator, but I do like to break the story up into scenes and make a storyboard.  Granted, these are things the Author may not have much control of during the publishing process, but at this point that is not really what it’s meant for.  This process gives you the ability to know if what you have written works as a picture book. Are there at least 12-16 distinctly different scenes?  Another added bonus is that it might help you envision changes in the text you may not have seen before.  Perhaps you’ve written something that is too wordy or has too many descriptions.  Or perhaps there may be an added emotional layer you didn’t see before.
 

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