If you ever get stuck and need some inspiration to come up with new picture book ideas, here are five ways to help ignite your creativity:
1. Think back to your childhood experiences.
Try to remember times when you were surprised, scared, excited, hurt or disappointed. What was the reason in each of those situations? How did you react? Did you learn anything? Did you confide in your best friend? Looking back, what do you wish was different?
Turn one of those experiences into an adventure. Or a silly tale. Re-imagine one of the above scenarios as a funny story. Or perhaps a sweet story.
You can also mix and match. For each experience you remember, write the main components -- feeling, reason, outcome -- on a separate piece of paper. Fold your little notes and put them in three different jars. Draw one note from each jar and write that story. Even if you think it won't make sense, find a way to make it work. I'm sure that the more absurd the "plot" you have to work with, the more it'll spark your imagination and the result can be fresh and original.
2. Read a variety of picture book.
I often find my ideas that way. Not by copying, but by turning the story on its head. Sometimes, I imagine the plot as the opposite of what I read. I also change the emotional landscape.
Other times, it might be helpful to just take the theme of the story and consider it from a different angle. (Always research to make sure this hasn't been done already.)
3. Talk to kids.
Friends, neighbors, your own . . . Ask them about their day. Can they share something funny that happened recently or something that made them mad?
And if you just ask them for story ideas, they are very willing and excited to help and they come up with the craziest, most unexpected suggestions!
4. Flip through kids magazines.
Read the article titles. They're usually catchy and straight to the point. How can you turn that into a story? Some magazines include funny or clever kids' quotes, as well as parent letters. See if any of those could make a great story.
5. Look at illustrator portfolios online.
You might stumble upon a character that speaks to you, begging you to tell his/her story. Or you might discover a scene that evokes an emotion behind which lies an untold story. Your story.
If you see something that you like, ask yourself questions. Why is this stork frowning at the birthday cake? What made that frog laugh? What would make this little boy jump with excitement? Why are all the animals staring at the green goat? Why is it green?
Whatever the scene is that the illustrator captured, try to come up with a few possibilities about what happened right before that moment and what is about to happen next. Write them down. Mix and match again if you must.
And there you are! Off you go creating, no need to wait for the muse.
I hope this list will be of some help to you next time you brainstorm story ideas.
If you would, leave me a comment and let me know which of the above you'll try next or what are some other ways or tricks you use to come up with new ideas.
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.