Join the International Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Also join your local SCBWI chapter. This organization is the single most reliable source of information about every aspect of writing and illustrating books for children.

Dear Authors,

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit this page. In the twenty years that I have been writing professionally, I have written newspaper and magazine articles, songs, librettos, animated television shows, children's books, and young adult novels. Along the way, I've probably made every mistake it's possible to make. But I have been incredibly lucky in that at every stage of my career, I had amazingly talented editors and teachers who were able to point my mistakes out to me -- whether I liked it or not. That process kept me from making the same mistakes again and again and allowed me to keep moving forward in terms of developing my talent and my career.

I can't teach you in a few minutes what it's taken me many years to learn, but there are some very basic and simple self-diagnostic techniques that will, I hope, help you improve your work. I'll be updating this page so please keep checking back.

Good luck with your writing!


Kimberly Morris


Writing for children? If so, make sure you write a story and not a sermon.
Being overly didactic is probably the most common mistake children’s writers make. Concentrate on writing a good story. If your heart is in the right place, your subtext will shine through.

They don’t call them “picture books” for nothing.
Does your story lend itself to illustration? If not, then you might want to rethink it. Perhaps the problem is that you have only one character. If so, you might want to consider adding a second or third character. If the problem is “talking heads”(too much dialogue and not enough action), then write in some entertaining action. Remember, it’s fiction and it’s illustrated. Try not to be too reality bound. Make the most of the possibilities of the medium. Have some fun!!!

Story? Do you really have one?
Whether it’s a picture book or an adult novel, a well-written story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Most writers get off to a good start, know pretty much where they want to end up, but then have a big problem figuring out what happens in between. “That darned middle” is a very common bugaboo.

If you have a story problem, don’t fudge it. Fix it!
It’s always tempting to try to disguise that fact that you’re really not sure what’s going on in the middle by introducing more subplots, new characters, another murder, yet another suspect, and, when all else fails, a big explosion. Resist that temptation because most of those things just become red herrings and loose ends that will leave you even more bewildered. This brings me to the single most important piece of advice I can give any writer…(and you’re not going to like it. Nobody does.)

Solve your story problems BEFORE you start the book.
For most people this means writing an outline. In my experience, the word “outline” generally sends an aspiring author running for the exit. But please hear me out. I began my life as a writer just as resistant to this idea as you are now. However, the professional pressures of meeting stacked deadlines forced me to become practical and efficient in my approach to solving creative problems.

An outline is a map. Would you get in your car, start the motor, and head for Alaska with no map and no clear idea of how you were going to get there? If so, what do you think would happen? I’m guessing you would probably drive around in circles, take one wrong turn after the other, waste endless amounts of time, get terribly frustrated, and abandon the effort.

If you can discipline yourself to complete an outline, you will be a happier and more productive writer. Writing a book is a lot of work. Delineating character, constructing prose, and crafting dialogue are enough to do. Don’t try to solve your story problems at the same time. That’s giving yourself way too much to do at once. You will write yourself in circles, take one wrong turn after another, waste endless amounts of time, get terribly frustrated, and probably abandon a very promising manuscript.

I know that many writers disdain outlines. However, preparing an outline has worked for me time after time and is an excellent diagnostic tool for identifying story problems early and fixing them.

Remember, an outline is not meant to BIND you, but to GUIDE you. It’s just like a map. You can always make changes in your route or itinerary, but at least you’ll know where you’re going and how to get there.



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