PICTURES FIRST, THEN THE STORY

It’s summer here in Australia where I live. And today is Australia Day. The children are still on school holidays (or summer vacation as I know it’s called in some places) and my new book LOLLI & THE SUPERFOOD QUEST is due to the editor on Monday. I’m only half way done! Normally I would panic, but the difference is I already have the illustrations for this book. My usual process is to write a book, and then ask the illustrator to draw certain key scenes. This time around,  the illustrations are already done. This is a book I was going to write very differently many years ago, so I had already commissioned the illustrations.

Writing to pictures is much easier than writing without them. In fact it not only speeds up my writing, but really stretches my imagination to make things fit. I wrote the series LOLLI’S HAPPY HEART RHYMES exactly the same way. I had the illustrations already, many of which are quite quirky and I wrote the poems to match the images. It was tough in some ways but an amazing creative exercise and it’s why I think those rhyming books turned out way better than I could have imagined.

Why am I telling you all this? Because there is great benefit in writing a story to match the pictures. Especially for kids.

Storytelling is a primal thing. We love telling stories and I think kids love sharing stories most of all. When we listen to their stories it builds their self esteem and self belief. My own children (now 10 and 13 – my son just turned 13 on Tuesday so now I have an official teenager in the house) can struggle making up stories out of thin air. So together we often look through pinterest, magazines, google images and find pictures that spark their imaginations. My children love making up stories to match the pictures. And often those stories are seriously good!

You can even use family photos in the same way. We once took a photo of our dog Lucky (he’s a Moodle) when he came back from a haircut. It was a crazy haircut! The kids took a photo of him because he looked so funny. Later on in the year we came across that photo and my son said “I remember when Lucky got his new bouffant.” So we all wrote a story called Lucky’s New Bouffant. We each wrote our own version and shared it with each other. It was the best afternoon we ever had. I might even share our stories of Lucky’s New Bouffant on a future blog post just for fun.

So, get writing and get your kids writing too. Look for images and pictures that inspire you and see what stories you can come up with. You just might surprise yourself and your children might surprise you too.

Have a great week.

Elena xox