LizGartonScanlon_photoCongratulations, writers!
Thirty picture book ideas is a lot.
A Costco-size lot.
Plenty to wrap up this year with satisfaction and kick off the new year with energy, inspiration and confidence.

But, why stop at plenty?
Go ahead and multiply that 30 by at least three.
I’m serious!

Because here’s a best kept secret: Ideas are expansive, not limited.

Each idea you spun over the month of November is now fodder for a story told in 1st person or a story told in 3rd, a story told in past tense or a story told in present. Each idea might play out in a story told in rhyme or a story told in prose, a fictionalized piece or one that is God’s honest truth through and through.

Our picture book ideas don’t come with a set of parameters we must follow-or-else. Instead, they come with a set of possibilities that are ours to play with. Sometimes, when a first or second or fourth draft of a manuscript kind of sucks, we make the mistake of thinking the idea sucks. And that’s that. Out it goes with the trash, never to be seen again. But really, it’s entirely possible that it just needs to be told in a different way, poured into a new shape, unwound with new language.

My messy desk where I write gadzillion versions of everything!

My messy desk where I write gadzillion versions of everything!

I’ve rescued more than a couple of apparent flops by telling the story from a different point-of-view, or pulling it out of rhyme, or changing the tense. And the beauty of picture book manuscripts? They’re short enough that you can try all of these variations of shape and style without aging yourself by years.

So carry on, you powerhouses with 90-some ideas at hand. They should keep you good and busy for awhile…

thinkbigLiz Garton Scanlon is the author of the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book ALL THE WORLD, illustrated by Marla Frazee, as well as NOODLE & LOU, illustrated by Arthur Howard, A SOCK IS A POCKET FOR YOUR TOES, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, and THINK BIG, illustrated by Vanessa Newton. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUNNY, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, will be released on January 15, 2013. Liz is an assistant professor of creative writing at Austin Community College and the mother of two daughters. To learn more, visit her web site at