TrinkaPhotoby Trinka Hakes Noble

Before there were words, human beings communicated with pictures. In pre-verbal times, stories were drawn out in picture form. So, the picture book, which uses pictures and words, touches something deep within all human beings, regardless of age.

I think the picture book is a most unique art form. It brings together both the visual and the literary. Children who cannot read words yet will be reading the pictures. That is why this unique art and writing genre deserves our highest efforts, our most original thoughts and ideas, and our most sincere work. Picture books are teaching the next generation to read!

Of the over 30 books that I have published, the one which fits the picture book genre best is The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate The Wash, illustrated by Steven Kellogg.



Because I am also an illustrator, I write visually, and Steven’s art fit my story perfectly. It is included in the Houghton/Mifflin Readers that are used throughout the country to teach reading to second graders.

When I first started in children’s literature, books for young children were divided into two categories: the picture book and the storybook.

In a storybook, the story was all there and the pictures just enhanced and embellished the story. In other words, I could read you a storybook over the radio, without seeing the pictures, and you would understand it. A good example of a storybook of mine is The Orange Shoes, illustrated by Doris Ettlinger. [Insert photo of cover here] And, Apple Tree Christmas, which I both wrote and illustrated, will show you how organically the art and the story are intertwined, mainly because one person created it. appletreechristmas

However, in a picture book, the story is told in both the words and in the pictures. If I read you a picture book over the radio, you wouldn’t understand it without the pictures. Now, all books for young children are called picture books.

So, my challenge for you on this 29th day of PiBoIdMo, and I hope it is an inspirational challenge, is to think of your story idea in pictures. Think of the first page as a picture, and then imagine the next picture and the next. See if you can string together several pictures, almost like a movie, in your mind before you write any words. Or, if you are about out of ideas on day 29, perhaps using your favorite idea for this month and start seeing is visually, in pictures. Hopefully, by giving the visual center stage, you will capture the very essences of the picture book before you get involved in words. There might be a certain rhythm, a beat, and an energy that will find its way into your words by starting with the pictures first. Try to see it in your mind’s eye. Let it play, dance and flow across you visual imagination. No words, just pictures…and see where it takes you.

Best of Luck!


Trinka Hakes Noble is the award-winning author of numerous picture books including The Scarlet Stockings Spy (IRA Teachers’ Choice 2005), The Last Brother, The Legend of the Cape May Diamond, The Legend of Michigan and Apple Tree Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated. Her newest titles are The Orange Shoes (IRA Teachers’ Choice 2008), The Pennsylvania Reader, The New Jersey Reader, Little New Jersey and The People of Twelve Thousand Winters. Ms. Noble also wrote the ever-popular Jimmy’s Boa series and Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, both featured on PBS’s Reading Rainbow. Her many awards include ALA Notable Children’s Book, Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice, IRA-CBC Children’s Choice, Learning: The Year’s Ten Best, plus several state reading awards and Junior Literary Guild selections.

Her latest title is The Legend of the Jersey Devil, and forthcoming in March of 2015 is Lizzie and the Last Day of School.


Ms. Noble has studied children’s book writing and illustrating in New York City at Parsons School of Design, the New School University, Caldecott medalist Uri Shulevitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and at New York University. She is on the board of The New Jersey Center for the Book and a member of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature.   In 2002 she was awarded Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters in the state of New Jersey for her lifetime work in children’s books, along with letters of commendation from the US Senate, the US House of Representatives and the US Congress. Ms. Noble currently lives in northern New Jersey. Learn more by visiting her website at


Trinka is giving away a signed copy of THE ORANGE SHOES!


This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

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I’ve read several of your books and even taught with Jimmy’s Boa! Your new Lizzie book looks great! Thanks for this post and reminder to see pictures first before writing!

Trinka, I love the visual idea of scene after scene. Thanks.

Wow, this one is going to really challenge me, thanks Trinka for a firm push at the tail end of this enormous elephant in my writing room!!

This is great advice! I love the idea of trying to visualize the story before creating the words. I’m going to try this!

Good for the imagination, too, I guess. Going to try it with my next story

Sometimes it’s hard to remember to write with pictures first. Thanks for reminding us. Great post.

This is great advice! You were successfully able to combine facts together!

Might reapproach a manuscript the picture way now… Thank you!

I know I am told to consider pictures after writing my manuscript, but I have never started with them. Thanks for the post.

First, picture my picture book story. Makes perfect sense. Thanks.

Thanks for the different approach, Trinka. As a writer/illustrator, it’s surprising how many of my ideas begin with just concept. I’ll let myself daydream in pictures today and see where that goes!

Thanks for the advice, and I have got to track down that Jersey Devil book!

Love this tip. Thanks

Thinking of picture series will be in my head forevermore. What a great idea! Thank you!

Lisa Connors
I need to tap into the picture side of my brain. I am heavy on the word side. Thanks!

Thanks so much for the advice!

So excited to see today’s post was by you! I’ve long been a fan. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Great advice, and push to not start with words. Thanks! And I love Jimmy’s boa!

I’m going to imagine my current story idea in pictures today, scene by scene. This must be why animators and political cartoonists write such great picture books.

Many of my ideas come from my sketchbook. I love doodling.

Thanks for the lovely post! Great advice on visualization!

Left side of brain, meet right side.

I love the idea of visually imagining my story! We love The Day Jimmy’s Boa ate the Wash at our house!

“… this unique art and writing genre deserves our highest efforts, our most original thoughts and ideas, and our most sincere work.” What a great quote! Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us. Much success for the year ahead!

Thank you for a great post. Imagining pictures is so important!

I am working on a revision today and am going to visualize it as I write it. Thank you.

I’ve loved your books for a long time. So nice to finally “meet” you!
If I should win the giveaway, please write a message inside the book for the “Little Free Library Walnut” and I will put it in my box of books and share with others.

Thanks so much. I’ll be thinking in pictures today.

Great post. Illustrations can definitely make or break a book. I am a fan.

Thank you for your insightful post. Your books sound wonderful. i can’t wait to check out The Legend of the Jersey Devil.

I read Jimmy’s Boa over and over agin to my nursery school students. They loved it. Can’t wait to see your new Lizzie book. Interesting twist. WHen everyone else does the first day, you write about the last. 🙂

Trisha, wonderful suggestion! Keep writing your wonderful picture books! Wishing you continued success.

I have used a Moleskine storyboard notebook to initially put my thoughts on paper. Real rough sketches of the visuals in my head. All my ideas seem to stem from a picture in my head that won’t go away.

I love Jimmy’s boa! Most of my stories start out visually too. It really helps.

Thank you for the clear definition of storybook vs. picture book!

Looking forward to reading Lizzie’s story this March! Thanks for the wonderful tips.

Thank you for this! I love the idea of thinking and plotting visually.

Great advice to write visually, thank you! I love Jimmy’s Boa!

I love your work and your ideas today..a different approach is needed.

I often think in pictures. Thanks for the tips!

Wonderful idea, visualize the story first. like a running movie in your head! I do enjoy doing this and yes, I am one of those people who cannot draw but I’ve learned to get it down on paper, no matter how terrible your illustrations are! I have read a lot of your published work and wish you success in Lizzie’s story! Thank you for sharing this post and your time with us!

Thanks for the great advice!

Great to be reminded of the true importance of children’s books and the nuance between storybooks and picture books. Thank you..

Wonderful advice! Thanks for sharing.

This will be a challenging angle for me. To start with the images and match words with them instead of the other way around should be quite enlightening. Thank you for giving us a fresh insight so near the end of the month.
– Lynn A. Davidson

Thinking about my stories visually often helps me solve problems in the text so I can move forward. Thanks for the great advice, Trinka! I’m looking to forward to reading about Lizzie!

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch is one of my favorite picture books of all time, so I’m taking this particular post of advice with an even higher regard than usual. Excuse me now, off to spend the day thinking in pictures. 🙂

What a great solution to the out-of-control wordcount. As a frustrated (and terrible) artist, this should be easy for me. As a blabbermouth, it’s not. 🙂

I don’t think I had ever heard ‘story book’ and ‘picture book’ distinguished quite that way before — it makes total sense (even if that’s not how the terms are still used). Nice food for thought — thanks!

Good idea. This advice might help us edit some of our already written manuscripts, too.

Even though I’m not an illustrator (Yet…) I do see most of my stories visually, and I mostly write novels, but I’ve taken small steps into the picture book world, the problem for me is using words to “illustrate” the story in such a concise manner.

Maybe that’s because I’m highly detailed oriented, I often construct a string of interconnected tweets on Twitter, that’s part of why, along with being hopelessly chatty.

Pictures first. Great concept. I have been putting art clip pictures for each day’s title for PiBoIdMo. One picture to represent the story idea. It does help! Now, I wish I were an artist. No such luck.

Jimmy’s Boa is a classic in our home! We all love it.
Thank you for this post. Very helpful.

Good advice. Thinking visually helps in planning the pacing and rhythm also.
I’m finding some of my ideas are arriving as sentences, and some as mental images of the characters.

I always think visually, but I didn’t understand how to process my pictures until reading this. Thanks!

To teach children the joy of reading is the greatest thing we can do.

Thinking in a series of pictures first is a good challenge for me. Thanks!

TI’m going to challenge myself today. Thank you for the idea of thinking pictures first then words!

That is an approach I’ve never tried. I must do that soon! Thanks!

I often think of the illustrators eye when crafting stories! Thanks!

I will rise to your challenge on day 29. Thanks!

I have never started with images and pictures, but it works perfectly for the picture book I just started! Thanks!

I like your explanation of picture book vs. story book and how it has evolved. I have wondered about that ever since I began exploring writing picture books. I also like the idea of starting with the pictures in your mind and writing from there. That may launch a whole different perspective on the story.

Thanks for the great post. I love this advice. The illustrations may pour out of me in stick figure form, but they’re vibrant in my mind. 🙂

Your idea will be much fun to try. I love the idea of ‘story book’ and ‘picture book’ differences.

I never thought of books as ‘story’ or ‘picture’ but you’re absolutely right! Looking forward to your challenge of visualizing before writing a word. Can’t wait to read ‘The Orange Shoes’ from my library. Thank you, Trinka

Thank you! I hadn’t realized the distinction between story and picture books but that makes sense. It’s a shame storybooks are out of favor.

You are so prolific and I loved Jimmy’s Boa growing up. Thanks for your insight.

Thanks for your extremely helpful post! I’ll be thinking in pictures all day now!

I never thought of how we communicated before speech before, except in myths. Very nice!

My kids learned to read with Jimmy’s Boa! What a fun book. Thinking in pictures the rest of the day…

Love the Boa book!! Now time to start visualizing. Thank you!!

Part of the great wonder of picture books is their ability to offer different experiences to different readers. Pure visual delight for non-readers and the very young. Increasingly sophisticated visual and literary treats for more advanced readers. They are uniquely able to appeal to all abilities and ages and that broad reach starts with the artwork. Thanks for a great post, Trinka!

Is it too early for New Year’s resolutions? I need to try to illustrate the PB movies that are in my head in addition to creating the words to describe them. thank you for another nudge in that direction!

Trinka, What a great idea to imagine each page of a picture book in images before words. I’ll try that with my newest PiBoIdMo idea.

Great advice to think of a story in pictures first. I am going to give this approach a try. Thank you Trinka! 🙂

Looking forward to your new book! Haven’t read The Orange Shoes, but I know Doris Ettlinger’s artwork and it’s fantastic.

I usually see visually with the words but not reverse. Great tip and will definitely try it. Thank you!

I love this post, Trinka! Thank you for sharing it!

I know exactly what you mean. As an illustrator I too see my stories before I write them. I’ll let keep at it. 🙂 Happy creating to you. T

Wonderful post! Thank you so much Trinka for the idea 💡!

I have an early chapter book MS that started out visually, but I never really though of making it something I tried regularly. I’ll have to give it a try 🙂

Thank you for the recommendation regarding thinking of my story in pictures. Sometimes I see several pages that way but not the whole story. I’m going to push myself to do this today.

Thanks for the tips!

Oooo, love this. Wonderful way to write a picture book. EXCELLENT! Thank you, thank you.

Whilst walking today I was toying with an idea and seeing the illustrations. I wasn’t sure what would happen in the story so I’m going to try this exercise and see if I can ‘get in’ that way. Thanks.

“The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash” was one of my favorite books in 1st grade! How wonderful it was to read a post from you! 🙂 -Lily Stejskal

Love those first 2 paragraphs; so beautifully stated. Hopefully, PB’s are teaching the next generation not only to read, but to LOVE BOOKS as well. So happy to be introduced to you and your writings. I’m a fan already 🙂 Marty McCormick

Oh, I loved reading “The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash,” to my sons. I think I’ll try out your thinking in pictures idea today.

Thanks for the post and challenge. I’m going to try and visualize my entire story before I write any of the words. 🙂

Thanks, as an animator/illustrator that is a familiar process for my stories’ development… concept, images and then finally words (but only where needed, and sometimes in contrast to imagery).

Great advice. I often visual my stories – like movies in my head – and it works well for me. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks for this, Trinka. I love the idea of story-boarding the whole thing, even though I’m not an illustrator.

Thanks for the top of thinking in pictures. Your tip helpsme to edit my rhyme so it can be more visual.

I’ve met many writers who are confused about the differences between PBs and other types of kids’ stories. Your explanation about reading them over the radio is one of the best I’ve heard.

I’m lucky, as a children’s picture book illustrator, concepts then images come first. Then I write the words to fit. I think it is much harder for writers who don’t illustrate, they are discouraged from having illustrator notes. So when their story is read it is not complete without the images hidden in their head.

Will have to try this. I usually think of some visuals, but not the whole story.

As someone who relies on words to paint a picture, this will be a very helpful place to begin. Thank you Trinka.

Story-boarding is a great idea – thanks for the post!

Thank you for all the books you have written for children (and the adults who happen to read them as well

Thanks Trinka. Although I certainly think pictures, I’m not sure I’ve thought pictures from start to finish before I begin with words. I’m making that my assignment today for a couple of my PiBoIdMo ideas.

Funny, because I illustrate I try to ‘hear’ the story first, before I decide on the images on each spread!

Wonderful advice for picture book authors!

Love all your ideas and suggestions! Now, got to get to work!

Great suggestions! Thank you!

Your post reminded me of when I learned to visualize stories by framing them as photographs…I can’t remember what year it was exactly, but Tara Lazar wrote about taking an empty picture frame as a concrete method to get use to looking at what fills the frame. I now use my pointer fingers and thumbs to make a triangle. It helps in shaping a visualization of something that sparks an idea. The problem for me is finding twists and turns to go with the idea…

Great advice. Thank you 🙂

I think this will help me figure out where the rest of the story is when I try to develop some of the one-liner ideas that are now in my notebook. Thanks for the great idea.

Though I am an artist, I don’t always come up with stories via illustrations. Seems as though I either do art, or write stories….thanks for the inspiration to let the images “write” the story.

Trinka, thank you for the great post and the opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy THE LEGEND OF THE JERSEY DEVIL. I love the illustrations by Gerald Kelly!

Will try sketching a dummy before writing to be sure there are prompts for interesting illustrations on all pages. Thank you!

“Picture books are teaching the next generation to read!”
Little readers of text and those of pictures rely on us to help them.
Let there be picture books! And let there be many!!

Being a visual writer myself, I was taken back to learn not everyone writes that way. I was baffled to learn a former critique partner does not visualize her book before, during the draft stages or once polished.

Your idea is super! I’m not an illustrator, but when I write, I imagine the story with pictures.

Last night I was dreaming of a picture book idea that wouldn’t work without a lot of illustration notes. I was trying not to judge it, but I was worried it would not make a good debut picture book. After this post, I will judge it no more. In you go, Picture Book Idea.

Trinka, The Day Jimmy’s Boa ate the Wash is one of our family favorites–we have a Jimmy! Thank you for your stories and for the post!

Thinking in pictures is a great way to find the words for a picture book story. Thanks for the inspiration.

What a fantastic way to create a PB, to start with sheer visuals. I love this.

Thank you for your thoughts on thinking visually! I like that very much!

Hi Trinka, I really liked your suggestion of letting the visual picture guide your story, and many thanks for all your rich stories and drawings!

Trinka, I’m not an illustrator, so I never thought of “seeing” my story before writing it. Great idea! I’ll take on your “challenge.” Thanks for your post and encouragement. I’ve bookmarked your web site and will check out your books. They sound so interesting.

Jimmy’s Boa–a favorite! Thanks for the reminder of the distinction between storybook and picture book. Writing in more of a PB style rather than storybook style is something I’m working on. Thinking in pictures will help!

Starting with visuals today to build a story from a series of images. Thanks, Trinka 🙂

Seems like a no brainer to visualize your PB Trinka, but to do much of it first, without any words – well I tried it with one of my new ideas – ta-dah!! Came up with lots on new scenarios. Good day 29! Thank you!

I always see the pictures for the words. I’m going to try to hear word for the pictures today. Interesting concept. Thank you.

I hadn’t thought about it in those terms, but I can think of lots of picture books that simply would not make sense without the illustrations. And I’m thinking of those where on the last page the illustration creates a twist to the story. In fact, I just wrote one of those.

Trinka, Congratulations on your coming PB, March 2015. I had so much to learn about PB’s that I’ve let the art work go, thinking most editors want their preferred person to illustrate. But that doesn’t mean I can’t draw the story for myself, so I’m giving your idea a try. Thanks for inspiring us to keep trying, even on the 29th of November.

Thanks for this great post, Trinka! When I took an idea I’ve been kicking around most of the month and tried to tell the story picture by picture, a new and potentially promising conflict emerged.

What great advice! …and thanks for the excellent description of the difference between a picture book and a story book.

The Jersey Devil legend sounds really fun too. Great advice. Thank you.

Great suggestion to think in pictures. You need lots of scene changes to create a captivating picture book. Thanks!

Thank you, Trinka. Thinking visually really helps to cut the word count and leave room for illustration.

I am going to take a bogged down ms and try imaging it in pics as you suggest… Crossing fingers and toes for some magic to occur.

Ah! Again the advice to think out the story before writing a single word. I see a pattern emerging: More Daydreaming, More Loafing, More Thinking! Thanks for reminding us to give our “highest efforts.” We appreciate you giving us yours.

Wonderful post! I’m thinking visually and getting excited.

Thanks for sharing your great ideas!

Since I dream in 4-color surround sound, the visual comes to me in technicolor. Very helpful as a writer!

I often get a visual image of a story and stop there. I love the idea of stringing pictures like a movie. Thank you for an inspiring post.

Awesome post!!! I love thinking in pictures.

I can’t draw but I can think visually. Thanks for the reminder!

Thanks – I am a word girl so I really like the idea of going back and thinking about images for some of my ideas. I see the images but have not really done a picture by picture walk through of my ideas. Nice! Looking forward to the new book in March!

This month, thanks to some new brainstorming ideas, I’ve been thinking in character pictures. New goal: get my brain to think up a series of scenes!

Working at creating that balance between words and pictures in my manuscripts. Thanks for the encouragement.

OK, Trinka, I thought out ideas in picture and then wrote & there are much fewer words. Gonna try this on some other stuff. Not sure I have a plot though…but it’s just ideas at this point, right? Thank you for this insight.

Great advice! Thank you for your post!

I like the idea of picturing the whole story in your head before writing it down. Thank you!

Linking the words to the picture or the picture to the words. Great advice!! I cannot draw, but have an idea of how I imagine the page. Thanks Trinka.

Cave writing did come first as stories. How would we remember the past without it. I guess there are still people who write that way. My cave stories come through pictures I take. Visualizing stories is invaluable. Thanks for the reminder.

I think visually as well and I think this is an excellent exercise. Thanks!

Love the idea of trying to show the idea visually. I will give it a try. Thank u!!

Jimmy’s Boa was definitely a top favorite of mine! Thank you for the inspiration at the end of this challenge 🙂

Funny enough, I find myself stringing scenes together (or playing an entire scene in my mind like a movie) when I write novels, but less so when I write picture books. I obviously need to change my way of working. 😉 Thanks for suggesting we do that!

Argh! This is a tough one for so late in the game…. trying to get my brain fired up for it 🙂

That’s a fresh way to look at my writing: without the writing! I’ll try it!

I am not much of an illustrator but I am off to give this ago, thanks for the great article

Great idea if you are a visually strong. I could imagine all sorts of visual images, where there are some people who are unable to do it. My eyes can sense textures, colors, etc. which people like my husband, are unable to do. Thank you for sharing your tips. I have never thought about picturing the whole story in my head before writing it. Great tip.

I love the idea that a picture book is a unique art form )

Trinka, thank you for sharing your process.

Thank you for the great reminder — picture books tell stories with pictures! Delete excess words!

Great post! I’m picturing my next story now.

It is often an image that starts a story for me. Whether it is the question that the image brings to mind, or a scenario built around the image, the image is the boost to my beginning. Thank you, Trinka! Can’t believe we’re at this end of PIBoIdMo! The postings really help, Tara!

Thanks for the great post and the chance to win your book!

Good reminder to get away from the words for a bit.

Thanks for sharing your advice.

Visualizing the story is a great way to get ideas flowing. I’m not an illustrator but need to think what pictures might illustrate my words, even if the artist comes up with something entirely different. Thanks for your post.

I hope I win your delightful book! Really enjoyed your great post.

Wonderful idea for super-charging a ms I’ve been struggling to move forward! Thank you for this valuable perspective. The cover illustration on The Orange Shoes is calling,”Come read me!”

Great idea for seeing my idea. Thanks for the inspiration and giveaway.

Trinka, thank you for making the difference between storybooks and picture books so clear. Your challenge to think visually before ever writing a word, will be interesting.

Thinking only in pictures! Definitely going to try that!

I’ve loved your art since my kids were small. Now I’m going to try thinking in pictures!

We also love Jimmy’s Boa. Thank you for a great post.

Great challenge! Gonna totally give it a try. Thanks! Love Jimmy’s Boa, by the way, as do my kids (still – and they’re a bit too old for it LOL)

Trina, you have written the perfect definition of a picture book. Your challenge is challenging, so I’ll have to put on my special glasses. Thank you!

The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash was a favorite for my kids many years ago–thanks for the challenge!

I usually have a (single) visual for my ideas, but I like the challenge of building on it by adding pictures rather than words. Thanks!

Apple Tree Christmas is a great book full of warmth and coziness. And The Orange Shoes is a great title in itself for visualization. Thank you for the idea to visualize.

I think I am a visual writer too. I love all of Trinka’s books too.

I love the idea of picturing your book first then the words.Thank you for the great advice.

The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate The Wash, has to be one of the greatest Picture Book titles ever! It just makes you want to open the book and find out how this happened.

Trinka, “The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash” is one of my all time favoite books. I’ve read it more times than I can count! Also, thank you for this terrific post. I’m not an illustrator but I love trying to visualize my stories.

This is what is so hard not being an illustrator. Telling the story you want to tell knowing you have to leave room for the illustrator to tell their story too.
Thanks for this post.

Thank you for defining storybooks and picture books. I am excited but kind of nervous to do your challenge. I will give it my best. 🙂

The pictures are so important for the youngest of readers. 🙂 At school, we teach that “reading the pictures” IS reading and a properly illustrated book should allow for a successful (mostly accurate) retelling of the story. When pictures and words come together, something magical happens.

Awwww, Lizzie looks so sweet! Thanks for your words and inspiration!

Storybook vs picture book… got it, thx!

Wonderful advice to play with your mind’s eye! Thanks for the inspiration, Trinka!

Thank you! It’ll be fun to go at it a different way.

Wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing!!

nice perspective. 🙂

Thank you, Trinka, for this most important aspect of writing picture books. And I love expanding upon an idea from this month since I’m practically out of them!

this is a great idea! thanks :>)

Good advice on writing visually. Thank you!

Really enjoyed this Trinka! Thanks!

When I write my stories I always try to imagine what I would illustrate. If I can’t really come up with anything good. I pause for a moment to see if I need to rewrite so they can be a good illustration. Thanks for the post.

This sounds like an ingenious approach. Then the words added later will be only those needed. And what an interesting challenge for those of us who are not illustrators.

We lost power for a couple of days because of the snow storm…the great thing about picture books is that they NEVER lose power. 😉
Thank you so much, Trinka…for encouraging us to give the visual center stage. I’m finishing up in Mira Reisberg’s Illustrating Children’s Picture Books class this month and my eyes have certainly been opened to the power of the art in a picture book. I am going to take your advice and work on my next pb idea with pictures before I give it any words!

What a wonderful way to start a story! An author’s role is to dig deeper into the story behind an image.

Thanks Trinka, I can’t wait to try this exercise. ‘Seeing’ the pictures is so important for creating the page breaks and taking out all the extra words in stories. It also emphasises the value of each word that is there!

Thanks for a great post!

As a non-illustrator, I love your challenge. Thanks so much!

I remember a few years ago that a critique group partner suggested I give up on “picture books” because I was too “descriptive” (which actually surprised me because I think it is my weakest area). Anyway, she felt that I described too much and should leave it to the illustrator – so I really “get” this post: I think for me it is more (since I do “see” it and how I want it to look and why): what do I leave out and what do I keep/add in? Hmm…

This was an interesting post. I usually see my main characters before the story even comes together. I like the idea of connecting the pages of pictures to come up with the words. Thanks!

It’s sad the storybook has gone the way of the dodo (or, more accurately, the way of the chapter book,) but I’m happy the picture book is still a mainstay. It is often a child’s first intro to story, as well as to art.

Thanks for explaining the former delineation between picture books and storybooks. I had wondered about that. And I will try your exercise! I currently have a tendency to think in words first, even though I come from a film background, so this should be interesting!

Great suggestion to “see” your story before writing. Thank you!

It’s such an act of faith, and so liberating, to let an artist bring a picture book to life- to not worry and expect that the illustrator (assuming, of course, that the writer and artist are not one person) will see the story and characters exactly as the writer does. Wonderful post, thanks.

Such wonderful advice! Thank you for reminding us to PICTURE our stories before and as we write.

I remember buying Jimmy’s Boa for my sons, and they loved it! Thanks for the good reminders about seeing the images before we start.

What Fun! Thanks for the great advice Trinka 🙂

I am a visual person so why didn’t I think of this? Thank you for your post!

Thanks for the helpful advice and suggestions!! 🙂

While I’m not an illustrator, I certainly visualize my stories. Thanks for the tip to let it play as a mental movie for awhile, before writing. I think that will be very useful!

Thanks for reminding me the difference between a storybook and a picture book!

I love this idea; can’t wait to try it! Thank you for your post! 🙂

I’ll try to think visually before writing any new drafts come 2015.–Thanks so much for the tip! 😀

The difference between picture books and story books is really interesting!

Pictures to tell a story is a wonderful idea. Thank you!

Thanks for the advise on thinking about the pictures.

Love every word you said! Thank you so much.

Thanks so much for this!

I love this idea. I can see how thinking in pictures could open up whole new directions for my words/stories. Thank you for your post and the challenge.

Thank you for your post. I really enjoyed reading it. I have also always loved your book. It makes me and my kids laugh to think of a boa constrictor at the farm. Thanks again.

Great post, the pictures play such a huge part of the story, thank you!

My first thought is that it is easier for me to think in words than it is for me to think in pictures. But that’s just my first thought. My mind is filled with images — some memories, some dreams, some faces, some events… So maybe thinking in pictures is doable! Thank you for this challenge.

Love it when a book appeals to readers, non-readers, and even adults! Thank you!

Thank you for stressing the role of picture books in teaching kids to read. I will definitely try visualizing my stories more prior to and as I write. This post was very inspirational Trinka, thank you.

I almost always start my stories with the visual. I wish I could just hit record on the images that are in my head sometimes! I’d be a much faster writer!

Almost every idea I have that keeps living, breathing, and whispering in my ear from this month is one that came with a strong visual. Thanks for reinforcing my belief that those are the best.

The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate The Wash was recommended to me as an excellent example by an editor during a manuscript critique. I tracked it down and studied it intently!

I love the idea of creating a picture book with illustrations only, without writing a word, to ‘tell’ a story. I’ve seen a few books like that, but they were done by illustrators, not people who were primarily writers. I’m going to try it! Thanks for the suggestion.

Bless you for describing the difference between a picture book and a storybook, and for putting it in historical context and explaining why “storybooks” are seldom mentioned anymore This explains a mystery that has been dogging me for months.

This is a tough one for me, but a good challenge that I will take on.

“Let it play, dance, and flow…” Great day 29 advice!!! Thank you!

Thank you for this post and the challenge to think of a story in pictures only.

Thanks for the reminder to think with my eyes. The Orange Shoes looks lovely!

I like the idea of imagining just a few pages at a time in pictures–helps me visualize the page turn.

I’m an illustrator and find my idea for a book usually starts as an image. This post was a good reminder to just sit with those images a bit long before I marry them to words. Thank you!

what an interesting post! thanks!

Thinking out the story idea in pictures certainly helps flesh out a concept.

Thanks for the challenge, Trinka and for the inspirational post.

I love this! Although I’m not an illustrator, I’ve found that I have to think in pictures for my mss to work. I found my 30th idea today, once I let go of trying to find the perfect story and started thinking of the pictures that would go with the words. Thanks for the reminder to think visually!

P.S. The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash is one of my very favorite picture books of all time!! ❤

I never thought about the difference betwen a storybook and a picture book. Quite interesting. Seriously considering drawing lessons. Getting more comfortable thinking visually, but would love to draw better stick figures!

Thanks for the fun challenge! I love trying to think visually and will definitely give it a whirl.

Great. Now I’m thinking about drawing pictures of things going wrong. Then turning those things into picture books. Not sure if I completely didn’t miss the point of this post or not.

Great Challenge. I love using photos for inspiration, so pictures are a part of my writing process.

    I do try to visualize what picture might go with each page of text. I am not an illustrator, but you are definitely right that it helps your story along if you can “see” something on the page besides your words. Thank you!

Thanks for explaining the original difference between story book and picture book, your explanation makes so much sense.

*closes eyes* *imagines* 🙂 Thanks for the helping us to think like an illustrator! 🙂

Love your Jimmy’s Boa books. I usually have one or two pictures in mind but not the whole story. This will be a challenge.

What a wonderful idea! Thank you!

Ack! Thinking like an illustrator is *hard.* I’m in awe of illustrators’ talents…

Thank you for the inspiration!!!

Trinka, your post was inspiring. I sometimes do see the pictures first. I’m going to work on seeing pictures first all the time. Jimmy and His Boa were hits at the day cares I’ve worked at. I look forward to reading all of your stories.

I do think visually as I’m writing, but words always come first for me. This will be an interesting challenge.

I have never tried this method, Trinka. But I love it. I’m going to try it with some of my ideas and apply it to some of my WIPs. Thanks for the inspiration. And thanks for writing The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash…it’s so much fun!

Thanks for opening our minds to a new way to see our stories beyond the models of story boarding and other dummy boards.

Picture books ARE teaching children to read!! Thanks for that important statement. I know there are pre school teachers who say they can’t sing, so they don’t sing with little ones. 😦
But at least they can show and read a picture book! Thank you!

Thinking in pictures today!

Thank you. Visualizing definitely takes some pressure off.

What a fun and useful exercise – thank you 🙂

Thank you for your post! I often see the pictures in my mind as I write, but you’ve inspired me to try picturing the story before I write a single word.

Thank you for this inspiring post!

Great suggestions!

Even though I’m a writer, my words transform into pictures as each word meets the page. I always feel that writing is half the story and pictures are the other half. Sometimes, I wish I could draw but then I realize that there are talented artists out there who are meant to enhance my stories.

Love the word sincere. Of course I expect that, but to hear the word stopped me in my tracks. I believe I am sincere, but is that what my stories convey? I’m going back to check. . . And next try your challenge: pix only!!! Yikes! Thanks!

Thanks for your post. I am also a visual thinker so this post really resonated with me.

Written visually about writing visually. A great reminder

Trinka: Thank you for affirming that what I see in my mind’s eye is my visual imagination and from there the words will flow and inhance the story. ~Suzy Leopold

Will try it! Thanks.

Thank you for the encouragement to visualize.

Coming from a film background, this is how I write as well – great advice! Thank you!

Thank you Trinka. Pictures only…This is an exercise I will be doing right now. 🙂

Great advice for us non illustrators.

I love this advice so encouraging and much more interesting way to write!

Love the idea. Really helps to see an idea as a picture first and then see where it takes me. Thank you.

Great post! I tend to visually imagine all of my stories, but have a hard time making the words connect with the pictures I see in my head, especially when writing chapter books and MGs.

Trinka, what a lovely small world. I quite literally just got through reading Apple Tree Christmas and was thinking about doing a book review on it when I stopped to catch up on reading my PiBo posts.

I, too, am a visual writer though I lack the talent to draw. I think visualizing the story helps me find the right words to bring an idea to life…

Great post!

great article. My students love Jimmy’s Boa!

Wonderful post! I’m a huge fan of your books (esp Jimmy’s Boa). Great ending to #piboidmo.

Just this month I started thinking in pictures and it’s been so helpful! 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!

I often think in pictures, but I’ve never considered thinking a book through from beginning to end in pictures. What a great idea! Thank you!

I love picture books! Your comments about the importance of art to the words are perfect. Thanks. I am saving your comments to reread often.

Thank you for helping my “see” my ideas. Pictures don’t always come easily to me.

These stories look so cute!

So good to put your face to your name near my mind shelf! Thank you, Trinka.

Great post. What fun, as an illustrator yourself, to see how other artists interpret your ideas and whose style might best fit a given book. I sometimes limit my ideas I think, because they don’t fit my illustration style…time to stop that! Thank you!

I like thinking in pictures too. Thanks for your post and the wonderful books you created.

Great advice. This is a good exercise in the writing process. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for a fabulous post! a : )

Enjoyed the post. Liked the art. And, the reminder to think in pictures if you’re going to write that picture book.

I’m a writer, and although I visualize the scenes, I cannot leave the text incomplete to allow illustrations complements the story. But I’ll try. Thanks.

Great advice! Thank you. 😀

Love this post! And, it brought back fond memories of the early days of my editorial career, during which I worked for a publisher who created lit-based supplemental curriculum materials (including some for Jimmy’s Boa, a true modern classic).

Love thinking in pictures–I’m a visual girl.

I am a stick figure artist (if you want to call it that) so the idea of drawing my story first is daunting but it also sounds fun so I will take you up on that and give it a try.. THANKS !!! 🙂

Thinking visually is a challenge for me, since I’m such a word person, but I think it’s good advice!

Such a great post! I would rather answer this post in pictures but alas-back to the weekend chores. Gotta be a story in that!

Trinka, I never considered approaching the book with illustrations first. I’ve always written the text in full, then thought of the illustrations. It’s approaching it like a wordless picture book. Could help make for sparse text! 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!

Thank you for your post. I find it so much easier to think of ideas when I start with pictures in my head. It has been interesting to read posts from you and other illustrators to find out how illustrators work.

Ahhh! Celebrity! My son’s just loved ‘Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash’ when they were youngsters (me too) and have that one tucked away in the ‘precious’ childhood books corner. Thank you for sharing the distinction between ‘storybooks’ and picture books’. Can you read them on the radio… Great advice! When I write picture books I do ‘see’ the pictures in my head and without those, the story would be lacking. I can only draw stick people so thank heavens for illustrators! A couple of my writing pals are writer illustrators. What a rich and talented combination. Thank you for this!

I’ve been using the visual technique this month with great results.

Thank you for sharing your story, very inspiring.

Thank you for the reminder – it’s easy to get really focused on the words and forget about the pictures.

Thanks, Trinka. I Love seeing picture books like a movie in my head!

The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash was one of my favourites as a kid. I just bought a copy for my children, and they love it too! It’s so nice to hear your thoughts on writing – thanks!

I’d like to echo what Pauline J said, and everyone else whose favorite was Jimmy’s Boa. What great techniques — this month has been a writer’s course in itself.

Seeing the story before imagining the words is favorite way of channeling ideas. It’s a fruitful method for me.

Pictures before words…fabulous advice!!

Thanks Trinka! Great idea from a great author.

Thanks for reminding us to “see” our stories!

Thank you for the visual exercise idea!

Dear Trinka,
Appreciations for your stories & for your idea that is actually, ideal.
Happy Holidays!
~ j a n annino

Trinka, the vote is in…the ‘eyes’ have it. Thanks for encouraging us to see the story in our work. I will try to keep reminding myself that I am writing book pictures, not picture books: the reversal forces me to think of it in the right way.

Thank you…I will try visualizing. My tendency is to focus more on words. Great advice!

Thanks for the idea! I tried it and I love it. I’ll be playing with this a bit more for quite a while (:

Thanks for staring this tip. I’m eager to read The Orange Shoes.

Thanks for the inspirational tip I will try and think in pictures from now on it will make my PB writing more real 🙂

I’ve finally gotten to the point where I storyboard my complete ideas, and, wow, I’m surprised every time with how much it helps! Thanks for the inspiration to continue doing this!

This is one thing I am planning to do this year. I want to look over my ideas and just start drawing and see what happens. Thank you for this advice!

Thanks Trinka for the visual reminder!

Thanks for the inspirational post. It’s nice to have support to think visually first. 🙂 Some of my PiBoIdMo list of ideas are just sketches for the character(s) or story. Your books look wonderful!

Thank you, Trinka! I’m really looking forward to trying this on my most recent PiBoIdMo idea. Happy writing and illustrating…

What a simple, yet brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing.

I like your idea

Great idea! Thanks!

Thank you for the inspiration!

Thank you, Trinka. I also write in pictures. I have found that writing this way helps me move the story forward and see what words are important and what is fluff.

So fascinating the many different posts we have had this month. And to think hieroglyphics may have been our first picture books — oh wait, I have an idea.

thank you Trinka for reminding us of the visual storytelling

Visualizing the story in pictures should be an obvious step when creating a picture book, but it’s easy as a writer to get caught up in focusing on just the words of a story. Thank you for the reminder to crank up our visual imagination as well.

Great reminder- I still have to force myself to do that. I hope it starts coming more naturally soon!

This is really good advice. I was just told recently that one of my manuscripts was written well but wouldn’t provide enough good illustrations- so yes, even the writer needs to think in pictures.

I am inspired to create pictures with words. Thank you.

Excellent suggestion to see the pictures in you mind first before writing words. Thanks for this post.

Thanks so much. I am not an illustrator but I can see why I need to try this.

Hello PiBoIdMo writers and illustrators.
I’m so glad my post on day #29 was helpful to so many of you! I was touched and so pleased that many of you mentioned The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate The Wash in your post. I wrote that early on in my career, and it helped me learn what a real picture book was all about, not to mention send my daughter to college! Always a plus! And it is still in print, going strong, and will celebrate its 35 anniversary in 2015!
I want to wish all of you the very best in your writing and illustrating of picture books and storybooks. I’m very proud of you for coming up with 30 ideas, or 25 or 20.

May the picture book muse be with you!

Trinka Hakes noble

Thank you!

Thank you for the lovely and inspiring post!

Holy Smokes! The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash was one of my all time favorites!
Great advice, especially for those of us who aren’t illustrators. Thank you,

Love Jimmy’s Boa!! Can’t wait to read your new books. Thanks for the tips.

Jimmy’s Boa! What a great book! I will certainly take your challenge and imagine my next story in pictures. Thank you!

Always a good thing when the pictures in my head come falling out of my head as words!

Thank you for sharing the difference between picture books and storybooks. I think your challenge will be helpful in planning out the dummy and during editing.

Thanks for the great advice

Dear Trinka, For those of us who “only” write, yours was the biggest challenge of all. Words kept sneaking into my pages–single words though, more graphic features than narrative. Still, I’ve never thought in such graphic terms when writing picture books and will continue to try to experience ideas more visually. Opening my mind to the possibility of composing in a different medium is the first step. Thanks!

Sent from my iPhone

Thanks for the inspiration to push our creativity into another method for inspiring ideas- I will be working on this one tonight!

I love reading your comments and hearing your opinion.

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