The Sticky Note Approach

It’s a new year and I decided to try a new approach; the sticky note approach to writing a picture book. I have long admired those writers who use sticky notes and while I am a notebook type of writer. I am trying something new and different.

One of the most important elements of writing a successful picture book is pacing, or “page turns.” When I read or critique stories I try to look at the page turns. If you can create a bit of suspense children will want turn to the next page. You want to create a page turner!

My current process is to write the first draft, revise, edit and revise some more. I often share it with my critique partners before creating a book dummy for the story. This is the first opportunity for me to visualize the page turns. The process of using sticky notes seemed easier for me and is helping me visualize those challenging page turns.

The Sticky Note Approach

As a former classroom teacher, I am well acquainted with sticky notes and their value in the classroom. When it came to writing picture books I decided I could not write a story on sticky notes. I always admired authors who could write their stories on sticky notes. I would watch in admiration as they moved and added sticky notes to their stories. If I were to try this I had to find a way that worked for me. Here is how I am using the sticky note approach to writing picture books.

First, I write the story. I aim for 300-500 words. Aim is a good word because more times than not, I go over 500 words on my first drafts. This allows me to tell the story and then remove all of the extra or repetitive words. I write a quick outline in my notebook with my research notes, then I type the story.

You will need a few supplies: scissors, stapler, sticky notes. Some writers use small notes and others prefer large. I like the larger size sticky notes.

Next, print your story. Cut out lines of the story that belong on one page, preferably even one side of a page. Staple each section to a sticky note. 

Using the Book Dummy

Since I have used the book dummy previously with all of my stories, I use this as my board. I add the title of the story on the title page and continue to place the sticky notes with my story on each page.

As you do this, you may begin to see that some words do not fit or passages are too long. Make those small adjustments, but be sure each page has words on it.

Now, imagine this is YOUR book. You are at a school reading it for the first time to a room of excited children. Hold it the way you would to show the pictures and read it with all the voices and animated you can add. You should be able to hear if a page turn feels right. If not, it is time for revisions to help your story move smoothly. Reading your story aloud, over and over again is one of the best pieces of advice I ever received. You can learn a lot about your story from reading it aloud.

What I like about this approach is that it helps me visualize the illustrations, I often cut words because the illustrations will show rather than tell. I also find hearing my story read aloud helps me with those final edits. I hope you will try the sticky note approach and let me know how it works for you.

With gratitude …

I am glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. It is an endless journey of learning and growing. A journey that I am enjoying. 

I am now booking author visits for this school year. If you are a classroom teacher, teacher assistant, Parent Teacher Association President, or After school Director I can work with you to create a visit that will meet the needs of your students. Please contact me to book your visit. 

Have you checked out my website. There are surprises everywhere. Click on the balloons and see where they take you. Can you find two writing videos? Freebies? A chocolate chip recipe? There’s even a special freebie to anyone who subscribes to my monthly newsletter. I have a number of FREE resources for childrenparents and teachers that librarians and homeschooling families can download and use. 

A Call to Action … 

Hello! Teachers have you signed up for my FREE read aloud. February 7th is World Read Aloud Day and I will be virtually visiting classrooms and reading my book, Gertie Saves the Day. If you are interested you can connect with me here. I will be sharing more information in my next blog post. 

If you have any questions or you would like to share your thoughts about this post, please leave your comments below. Thank you!

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