Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lessons in Learning How to Write Picture Books With I Ain't Gonna Paint No More

Today's case study book is I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont.  It is a captivating story about a youngster who got in trouble for painting the "ceiling and the walls and the curtains and the door" and was told "Ya ain't a-gonna paint no more!"

Here are six shining writing tips from its pages:
  1. Make every word count!  Besides coming in at just over 250 words, the text fits "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More" perfectly.  You could sing the entire story.  In fact, as you read it, you want to sing the story. 
  2. Be illustrate-able.  I love the pages where the pictures tell as much story as the text.  For example, "...there ain't no way that I ain't gonna paint no more" is accompanied by the kiddo on top of a self-made tower to reach the paints on the top shelf of the closet. 
  3. Let the child be the authority.  Mama might put the paints away, but that isn't what stops our hero from painting.  The end of the adventure comes only when circumstances created by the child main character impose a real stop to the creative process.  
  4. Make the rhyme perfect.  The rhyme and meter is so perfect I want to sing the story.  That is no accident!
  5. Relate to children's lives.  Is there such a thing as a child who has not been in trouble for drawing where he shouldn't?  This instantly makes every reader the main character and they love it!  
  6. Let the story be fun for adults too.  After all, they have to read it over and over and over. I still haven't decided if I identify with the Mama or the kid, but I have enjoyed the story many times.
These writing lessons are easy to apply.  Do you think they are absolutely required?  I think some are.  Every story is a little different.  I Ain't Gonna Paint No More is a joy to read to all ages, and that is most important.

Learning how to write picture books is a challenge that I enjoy daily.  In an effort to learn what is successful, I am studying picture books that my children and I love.  Lessons in Learning How to Write is a blog series to keep track of brilliant strategies great authors have used to write for children.


Bethany Mattingly said...

It sounds like a cute story :) Number 1 I think is really important for all writers.

Lynda Young said...

I'm not a picture book writer, but these are great tips, many of which can be used in other types of writing as well.

Carla said...

Bethany, it was a very cute story! I never really thought about #1 until I started writing for others, but I agree--it is universally important.

Lynda, I'm so glad you came by! I have been amazed by how many tips and good habits I've learned from people who are writing in genres that I am not.

Claudia Del Balso said...

Hi Carla,
I got here via Melissa Gill. Although I'm not a children's author, two of my friends are. I can refer them to your blog ;)
In the end, we're all writers.
Keep on writing!

Carla said...

Hi Claudia,

Thanks for stopping by! Melissa's blog is fabulous. I love to meet other writers...even if you write for adults! I just visited your blog and loved seems there is much to be learned from all writers, regardless of genre. ;)


Claudia Del Balso said...

Hi again, Carla,
Thank you for joining my blog. I think the writing community in blogland is huge. The beauty of it is helping each other. I am now your latest follower ;)
See you soon!

Susan R. Mills said...

I don't do picture books, but I think the lessons learned here can carry over to all genres.

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, excellent post. I'm going to tweet it.

Carla said...

Claudia, I can't wait to get to know you better!

Susan, I agree--there is a lot of overlap!

Corey, I'm so glad you liked it!


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