Monday, January 26, 2009

Getting Picture Book Ideas from Kids


Those of you who know me are already aware that I have a bit of an idea-generating impairment. I just hardly ever get any. Story ideas, that it. I have ideas for how to decorate my house or how to convince someone not to vote Republican. But I rarely get an idea and think, "This would make a terrific story for a picture book!"

People always say they get ideas from their kids. Well, my kids are as hilarious as the next, but I don't seem to be able take their antics and turn them into workable plots. Is that because I am not trying hard enough? Let me put some effort in.

1) Last week, we were in a restaurant and Jordan told the waitress, " I speak a little Spanish." Joshy, not wanting to be outdone, said proudly "I can speak a little karate!"

Picture Book Ideas:

How to Speak Karate- little boy takes karate and learns to count to ten in Korean (or Japanese?) Hana, dul, set, net....

The Three Karate Pigs- 3 little pigs get tired of being bullied and decide to study martial arts.
(too many Little Pigs stories already?)

2) I made my daughter chicken tenders for dinner the other night.

JORDAN: Mommy, I can't eat the chicken.

ME: Why not?

JORDAN: Because I don't like chicken nuggets without Ketchup. And I dont' like Ketchup.

Picture Book Ideas:

Circular Logic for Kids- How to outsmart your parents in three easy steps. (Jordan could have written this one at one and a half)

Okay, I admit it. I need help! This is why I always write with a partner. Becky? Melissa? Who wants to be in on a story with me?

8 comments:

Kelly H-Y said...

It may not be develop-able into a full story idea, but I do know that your comment (on my blog) about your kids responding to your request for story ideas with, "and then they all showed the wolf their tushies..." absolutely cracked me up! Kids love to go there, don't they ... it baffles me, but it cracks them up! :-)

taralazar said...

Yeah, I think the Three Little Pigs has been overdone, and already done well by John Sciesczka, although the karate pigs idea is very cute!

Ideas will come, just keep writing. Try to do the one story idea a day exercise that I did in November...it could be just a title, or a character's name...just write it down in one document and let it brew. I wrote two PBs from that exercise in November with a third I need to get going on!

Katie said...

Ehh - I think you're pretty good! I just wrote a tale about Mayonnaise :) Seriously, I did.

AND an agent kinda liked it (but told me to focus on my YA first. haha)

So you can get those ideas any old place. I'll bet you are better at it than you think.

Rebecca said...

Corey, you know I'm always here for you. :-)

That ketchup comment had me ROLLING!

Katie, she IS better at it than she thinks. The premise for our story OVER THE TOP originated with her daughter.

I think WHAT ABOUT MOOSE was one of her ideas too.

Oh, and Corey, don't forget the lost in the zoo story that we haven't polished up yet. That was also your idea.

MelissaPEA said...

You do get ideas. You just have to let them marinate, deep in your subconscious. They'll push forward when they are ready. The PB I wrote last week was in my head for a while, and it finally wanted to be told. Whether it's good or not, remains to be seen, but art is not to be rushed, my friend.

Solvang Sherrie said...

The karate pigs sounds funny...why limit it to the pigs? Who else could do karate that would be totally unexpected? Ever watched Hoodwinked? Little Red did karate on the wolf and it was hilarious!

You've got great ideas. Write down EVERYTHING. Let it marinate, as someone else said, and when you come back to it you'll piece it together in ways you hadn't thought of before.

Don't give up!!

Lindsay said...

Actually your kids sound QUITE hilarious! I was reading The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and thinking how much all my kids have adored it and thought and thought about it while listening to it. They never tire of it. It's about what kids do (but it's not funny). I don't know if that sells to publishers, but kids like reading about what they actually do! I like the marinating in your mind idea --good luck!

Beth Coulton said...

I am currently having some struggles knowing which ideas I have could be turned into a picture book, and which are simply that - just a nice idea and would never really go anywhere. I really like what I've read here, and there's some GOOD stuff!

I'm an assistant librarian at our local elementary school, and the kids report to me when they come in with their books in the morning. My first picture book idea was to capture the wide-eyed state a little girl (or boy, but I chose girl cuz I am one) to be in when she realizes it's library day and she has FORGOTTEN her library books...this is a big deal with kids in my line of work. I once told a little girl jokingly- Ok well then, you'll have to go to summerschool. She quickly reported to her friends back at the table that I told her that (and meanwhile I'm waiting for a call from the school board or a parent)and they were incredulous (I soon after told her I was kidding) But I thought the panic/summerschool/go home look everywhere for my books idea might work for the my-character-has-a-problem needed for a picture book - I'm just not sure how to end it yet.
Any feedback?