by Josh Funk
Someday someone will ask me why I write picture books. I won’t say “because I have stories that must be told” or “because my words are so important, all children simply must read them.” And I definitely won’t say “because I want to be rich and famous.”
I write picture books because I have funny ideas in my head that I think would entertain children.
But most importantly, I can’t draw. I mean, I’m allowed to draw, but I’m terrible at it. This was as good as I ever got as an artist…
So what’s the easiest way to get these ‘entertaining’ thoughts out of my head and allow them to be visualized by me (and others)?
Write them down …
and hope that many …
years later …
they’ll be published as picture books.
And in general, PiBo-ers, that’s how I come up with my ideas. I think of something I’d like to see illustrated. Something new that I haven’t seen before. Something that will make me laugh (and hopefully make children laugh). Something that an illustrator will have fun with.
Often this comes as interesting characters or their names. See: Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast.
It was harder to figure out what they should do. How do I fit these two into a plot with conflict and tension?
*Ding* They’re fighting over syrup (obviously). What started out as a quasi-political debate about who deserved the syrup more (I wrote the first draft around the 2012 presidential elections) needed more action and a bigger setting.
So I turned once again to my rationale for writing picture books: what would I find entertaining to see illustrated?
They’ll race for the last drop of syrup throughout an entire refrigerator landscape! 27 drafts and 45 rejections later I had LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST (Sterling, Oct 2015). [illustrations are by the fantastically talented Brendan Kearney]
Sometimes the answer comes in the way of an interesting situation. A boy and a dragon become pen pals? Ooh, that would be fun! But again, there’s no plot (meh, who needs a plot when you have dragons and an interesting situation? See: DRAGONS LOVE TACOS). But it still needed more.
What would be entertaining to see illustrated? Here I used the ‘what if’ technique. What if the boy thought he was writing to a boy … and the dragon thought he was writing to a dragon? That might make for some funny pictures due to misunderstandings?
16 drafts and several title changes later I had DEAR DRAGON (Viking, Winter 2016).
So if you want to see a Pancake run through Broccoli Forest and past Orange Juice Fountain …
Or you want to see a piece of French Toast go skiing …
Then just make sure it has an interesting hook, compelling characters, a riveting plot, and is appropriate for ages 0-10.
What do you want to see illustrated?
Josh Funk lives in New England with his wife and many many children. He is the author of the forthcoming picture books (all written in rhyme) LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST (Sterling, 2015), DEAR DRAGON (Viking/Penguin, 2016), and PIRASAURS! (Scholastic, 2016). Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________. Find out more information at www.papajfunk.com, on Twitter @papajfunk, on Facebook at Josh Funk Books, at Victimless Rhyme, on goodreads, or the end of the ‘F’ section at a library in the future (time machine required).
As Josh does not (yet) have any books published, he is giving away FIVE signed books from his critique family: THE RAINDROP WHO COULDN’T FALL by Kirsti Call, REX WRECKS IT! by Ben Clanton, MONSTER NEEDS A CHRISTMAS TREE by Paul Czajak, RUTH THE SLEUTH AND THE MESSY ROOM by Carol Gordon Ekster, and ESTHER’S HANUKKAH DISASTER by Jane Sutton.
These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:
- You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
- You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
- You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)
Good luck, everyone!