How To Use Image Prompts: Writing A Story From A Picture

Why image prompts work, tips for writing a story from an image, where to find picture prompts for creative writing, image prompt mood boards.

For example, if you are using an image of a beach, you could include pictures of people swimming, sunsets, waves crashing against the shore, etc.

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Using images for fiction writing.

This is just one example of the many stories you could write from this single picture prompt.

What About Non-Fiction Writing? Can You Use Image Prompts, Too?

There's still so much more to learn 👇☺️, related posts, can you use ai to write a book the best ai novel writing software, pdf template for writing a book, can ai replace writers don’t worry just yet…, can ai write poetry this hack might help you write your first book of poems, about the author.

picture story writing techniques

Arielle Phoenix

Crafting the Poetry Novel for Young Adults

March 8th, 2023

Even if you’ve never written poetry before, you can begin the rewarding process of crafting a poetry novel for Young Adults. Is there a market for novels written in verse? Are they well received? Yes, there is, and yes, they are!

how to write a children's picture book

Write Your Picture Book!

March 22nd, 2023

Picture books have changed greatly over the last few decades, and the market is wide open for fresh ideas. Join us in this six-week intensive where we’ll take that idea of yours and turn it into a manuscript!

10 Tips for Writing a Children’s Picture Book

 1.  these are not your parent’s picture books. (or yours, either).

Remember when picture books were all about bunnies and bears and going to bed? Cats in hats, green eggs and ham? Well, things have changed.

Fortunately, there is still plenty of room for wacky animals, funny adventures, and soothing bedtime books. However, children’s picture books now cover additional ground—including many difficult topics. These include war, homelessness, slavery, grave illness, racism, emotional health, surviving natural disasters, bullying, and grief.

Children’s picture books now cover additional ground—including many difficult topics.

If you have a heart to write for the young, rest assured that your unique idea has a place here, if written sensitively and properly for the right age group.

 2. Inspiration is Everywhere You Look!

The great thing about writing for kids? Ideas are everywhere ! Begin at home—pets and kids are often sources of fun stories. Maybe you have a gem of a rollicking tale in your family tree? Explore nature—you’ll find warm, simple stories in seasons, blooms, caterpillars and clouds. Explore poetry —some picture books are written in haikus, or rhyme. Sketch, meditate, listen to music, and listen to kids talk—creative inspiration is close at hand.

3. You Don’t Have to be an Artist to Create a Children’s Picture Book.

Many writers hesitate to create picture books because they are not artists. That’s okay! You’re a writer. Your job is to WRITE. Picture books are made by teams: A writer, an illustrator, and an editor—with an art director and designer often thrown in as well.  These people are put together by the publisher, not you.

No one expects you to provide any artistic guidance, sketches, or work from an artist that you hire privately. Focus on crafting your words into a beautiful manuscript and send off your pages—that’s truly all you need to do.

4. Writing a Children’s Picture Book is Harder Than it Looks.

Because picture books are short, people often think they can be written in a weekend or two. Nope. Think about it. If that were the case, wouldn’t we all be authors by now?

Picture books are some of the toughest forms of books to write. You need to tell a fresh , well-composed story—one that is not like any other book out there, or any other manuscript already on an editor’s desk. It will need a beginning, middle, and end, and you need to do it with as few words as possible.  You’ll need more than a cute idea and a few hours. You’ll need the willingness to write, revise, and start fresh, again and again.

You need to tell a fresh, well-composed story—one that is not like any other book out there, or any other manuscript already on an editor’s desk.

Is it worth it?  Well… imagine your book in the hands of little readers around the world—in homes, libraries, and schools.  Imagine creating a story for the child who needs your  book, right now. How does that sound? Is it worth the hard work? Absolutely!

5. The Slush Pile No Longer Exists.

Back in the day, you could send a manuscript to any publisher you wanted, and it would end up in a “slush pile” on the desk of an editor somewhere. They’d sift through that pile, reading manuscript after manuscript, searching for one worthy of buying. Most were rejected, but some would be chosen.

Those days are over.

Nowadays, most publishers won’t accept unsolicited submissions. They want, instead, agented material.

Nowadays, most publishers won’t accept unsolicited submissions. They want, instead, agented material. This means you  may need an agent if you plan to pursue publishing. Again—some authors do just fine without an agent. But realistically, just to get your book read, you may need to add “get an agent” to your list of things-to-do. Naturally, this part of the process comes after you have crafted a terrific manuscript—and possibly another, and another.

6. You’ll Need to Master the Art of Not ‘Over-writing.’

Say good-bye to most of those adverbs or adjectives you may be attached to: you must omit needless words . Writing a children’s picture book involves writing visually —leaving lots of room for the illustrator to tell the story through their pictures. You won’t spell out every last thing in your text… such as what color hat a person wears, how big or small their house is, the expression on a friend’s face of the texture of a pet’s fur.

For example, you might simply write, “ And the apple tree bloomed .” The artist will show the reader just how lush, full, and amazing the apple tree is, covered up in shiny red apples, under a sunny sky full of butterflies, while the main character stares up at it in awe.

This is why picture books are so unique and wonderful. The pictures and text are married to tell a complete story. Ideally, neither one can stand on their own, if separated. Some of the story telling must be discovered in the art. Remember, picture books are meant to be read to children who can’t yet read for themselves. Allowing them to discover some of the story in the art allows them to participate in the story experience—rather than to simply listen passively.

Picture books are meant to be read to children who can’t yet read for themselves.

Learning to write visually takes a little practice, but it’s well worth the effort.

7. Children’s Authors are Some of the Nicest People on the Planet

We are! Quite simply, this is a field where people are supportive, warm, and encouraging.  No catty, competitive behavior here. We want great books created and put into the hands of children.  It might be my book. It might be yours. Doesn’t matter—we just want those kids to have a lot of choices of wonderful stories.

We are on social media and in critique groups and writer-classrooms everywhere. You’ll find children’s writers are quick to offer helpful advice or share a resource, read your work or point you in the right direction. We give back. We pay it forward. Most of all, we cheer each other on!

8. It’s Critical To Read Books In Your Field

One of the best ways to learn how to write picture books is to read them! We learn a lot through osmosis. If you don’t already, then read, read, read. Peruse best sellers. Read classics. Choose books recently released, ones that win awards, and ones that you have never heard of. Read books constantly and expose yourself to different subjects, styles, authors and illustrators. Read wordless picture books, too!

Learn what works and what doesn’t—what you like and why, what you don’t like and why. Apply those lessons to your writing.

9. Revision Will be Part of the Process.

Even though your children’s picture book will be short in word count, it will take multiple passes to make it just right. Learn lots of tricks and tips on how to revise. Revision doesn’t always mean ‘start over,’ it just means your story needs a little work. Much like a house might need furniture rearranged or a new coat of paint, your story will benefit greatly from judicious editing, revising, trimming, and rethinking as you craft your way to a masterpiece.

10.  It’s Never Too Late to Start Working on a Picture Book.

Maybe you’re young. Maybe you’re not. You may have kids at home or be well into your eighties by now. Maybe you still work or maybe you retired. It doesn’t matter. Any age is the perfect age to pursue your creative dreams.

Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when she began writing for kids! Never turn away from the impulse to create or write. Just jump in and see where it goes! The world is waiting for your  story—the one that has not yet been written.

Learn How to Write a Children’s Picture Book at

If you’ve got a story to tell and need guidance to write it, take a look at my courses Writing for Children: Create A Picture Book!  and Finish Your Manuscript: Next Level Picture Book Mentorship . We cover everything, from the writing and design process to querying an agent, with lots of fun promised along the way.

What are your favorite picture books? Share in the comments below! I hope to see you in class!

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Sean Glatch

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I like children’s books now of days cover more difficult topics. That would help me teach my son about those things. Maybe I can get a couple of books like that for us to read together.

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144 Picture Prompts to Inspire Student Writing

A school year’s worth of short, accessible image-driven posts that invite a variety of kinds of writing.

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picture story writing techniques

By The Learning Network

We’ve been publishing our Picture Prompts series four days a week since 2016. These short, accessible, image-driven prompts invite students to create short stories, poems and memoirs; share experiences from their lives; analyze illustrations, graphs and charts; and weigh in on hot-button issues.

Here, we’ve rounded up all the Picture Prompts we published for the 2019-20 school year and organized them by the type of writing they ask students to do. You can find even more in our roundups for the 2016-17 , 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. That’s over 600 prompts in all. And many are still open for comment by students 13 and up.

To learn how you can use Picture Prompts to build literacy skills, promote critical thinking, spark discussion and foster creativity in your classroom — physical or virtual — watch our on-demand webinar, “ A Picture Prompt Is Worth a Thousand Words .” For dozens more ideas, see our lesson plan, “ How to Teach With Our Picture Prompts (and Other Times Images) .”

If you use this feature with your students, or if you have other ideas for how to use photos, illustrations and graphics to encourage writing, let us know in the comments.

What story does this image inspire for you?

Trapped Inside Wilderness Wayfaring Magical Chores I’m Sorry Dollar Bills Dinosaurs Endless Conversation Looking Back Social Distancing Vibrant Youth Fake Ice United States of Love Over the Falls Marching Band Heavy Head Night Circus Submerged Subway Ride Subway Balloons Under the Ice Resourceful Raccoon Calendar Vivid Voices Writing a Novel Passport Scramble Racing Pug Castle on a Hill Clowns Travel In the Hallway Striking Out Meeting in the City

Share experiences from your own life.

Collect Them All The Stories Maps Can Tell Strange Times, Strange Dreams Songs of Hope Drawing Ramadan in Isolation Across Divides Instagram Challenges Book Updates Funny Flicks Stuck in Paradise Pandemic Projects Home Cooking Your Learning Space Empty Spaces Helpers Favorite Flops St. Patrick’s Day Birthdays The Agony of Defeat Alligators in the Sewers In Memoriam Sibling Dynamics Slumber Parties Food Favors Super Bowl LIV Morning Moods Lunar New Year Internet Affirmation Pet Keepsakes Stargazing New Year, New You? Last-Minute Shopping Car-Free Travel Feasting With Family Mister Rogers ‘No.’ Dream House Strange Cuisine Multitasking Headless Horseman Music Therapy The Heroic Ideal A Place of Solace Pet Pampering Notes of Lavender Neighborhood Celebrations Fashion Idols Tributes Family Cooks Favorite Season Back to School

What do you think this image, chart or cartoon is saying?

‘OK Boomer’ Shadows Open and Shut Baseball Eyeballs Protesting Carrying the Weight Music Notes Flickering Sign Helping Hands Brick Wall Inside a Book Talking and Listening Maze Credit and Blame Newspaper City Pack of People ‘A 📖 of Two 🏙’ Head Spinning You Love You, Bro The President’s Tweets Split Reflections Forest in a Stadium Chasing ‘They’ Missiles, Hummers and Tanks Looking Over the Edge

What’s your opinion on this issue?

Masks The Front Page Teenage Drivers Graduation in a Pandemic Most Challenged Books Brady’s Big Move Mascot Working From Home Mall Rats ‘Bracelet of Silence’ Optimism Government Buildings Valentine’s Day Prizewinning Poodle Library Books Oscar Nominations 2020 Hologram Musicians Baby Yoda Hit Holiday Songs 2019 in Pictures World’s Big Sleep Out Snow Days Tesla’s ‘Cybertruck’ Fortune Tellers Scooters Everywhere Popeyes Chicken Sandwich World Series Champions Small Talk Big City, Small Town Tipping Summer Hits

picture story writing techniques

10 Powerful Visual Storytelling Techniques for Writers

Visual storytelling translates into emotion, tension, and character in a powerful way. In this post, we show you 10 powerful visual storytelling techniques that you can use when writing your next short story or novel.

Each is supported by examples that will help you understand the technique. It will inspire you to build radiant images, unforgettable characters, and breath-taking tension .

See, Feel, Write

In modern novels and short stories , there is a lot of emphasis on the ‘visual’ in modern storytelling – visual fiction that holds the same kinaesthetic quality of cinema.

One could theorise that readers ‘see’ stories first – striking, moving pictures in the imagination that come alive in in the mind’s eye.

Or we could argue that we live in a world where people relate more to visual stimuli. Do readers expect the same visual experience when they pick up a novel or short story?

We could possibly debate the question, but the truth is that images bring stories and characters to life. I would go so far as to say that all stories are primarily visual. In fact, writers have used figurative language for centuries.

Visual storytelling helps you show and not tell .

If you can show the world of your characters, the story becomes relatable and you create empathy in the reader.

The story world that you have created becomes realistic and believable to the reader. Similes, metaphors, and other imagery can make the story less complex and more fascinating.

Let us look at 10 techniques.

1 | Think Like A Screenwriter

Pick up just about any novel from today’s bestseller charts and you’ll find that most writers seem to be using their novels as calling cards for Hollywood, or prose auditions for a new Netflix series.

In fact, some novels even bring in scriptwriting techniques. In JP Delaney ’s psychological thriller Believe Me (2018), the author sporadically uses a script format to show how the protagonist, an unbalanced actress, sees the scene from detached viewpoint:

INT.DELTON HOTEL BAR, W. 44 TH ST. NEW YORK – NIGHT Already I’m getting to my feet, pulling my bag onto my shoulder. Defusing the drama. ME Sorry – I hadn’t realised. I’ll find somewhere else.

Of course, this kind of device works only if it suits the character and the story. Otherwise, it really is just a gimmick.

2 | See Like A Poet

For this technique, we turn to the poet for inspiration. Let us look at the imagery in Ezra Pound ’s short poem, ‘In A Station of the Metro’ (1913):

The apparition of these faces in the crowd: Petals on a wet, black bough.

We can almost see the pale, indistinct faces (‘ apparition ’) of the passengers in the busy Paris underground train station. The image of a ‘bough’ as a long branch creates in our imagination the line of the platform or the interior of the train in our imagination.

We also see this sense of poetic imagery in Alice Hoffman ’s novel, Here On Earth (1997): The sky is already purple; the first few stars have appeared, suddenly, as if someone had thrown a handful of silver across the edge of the world.

We pick up the sense of movement in the words ‘suddenly’ and ‘thrown’ and we see the colour contrast of the silver stars in the purple twilight. Don’t you love the way ‘across the edge’ creates a visual tilting or slanting sensation to the paragraph?

From the two short examples, we can see how writing can be richer and more visceral when we play up the visual elements. Readers are given both a mental and an emotional picture of the scene.

3 | Paint With Words

When you see a beautiful painting, something that is so vivid and evocative, your instinct may be to touch it to know if it’s real. Well, it’s the same with good writing – your readers shouldn’t believe that it isn’t real.

As storytellers, we are painting stories with words. We want readers to see a story and we want them to feel a story and the two are powerfully interconnected.

We do this through giving the reader visual cues, yes, but also in the way we structure our sentences and themes to create the desired effect.

Visual writing should include the other senses . Think about what your characters can  taste ,  touch , hear , and  smell . Consider how you can create the sensation of movement.

Let us look at some examples.

Top Tip: Buy our  Visual Storytelling Workbook

4 | Create A Cinematic Tone

Cinematic writing is close-knit and connected writing. In short, it is writing that isn’t simply visually interesting, but that replicates the experience of watching a movie.

The imagery carefully combines many elements and techniques to create a singular and unified experience for the reader.

Cinematographers understand the importance of lighting in a production. The way you light a film creates a certain tone . If we can understand the way light and shadows works in composing a story, we can use this in our writing to great effect.

Here are extracts from a short story, ‘41’, I wrote in 2014: White light in clear lines cut the hard wood floor under his broad, naked feet.

And later:  The smeared bright colours of the day mocked him after the erotic darkness of the club.

Once I’d created the contrast between light and dark, I went a step further and played out this tonal composition in the character’s state of mind:  Sometimes he thought someone was following him. Other times the world around him seemed to retreat and he was left in isolated silence, in an abandoned city and on desolate beaches ringed by bright, blue seas.

5 | Cluster Images Together

As we’ve seen, visual metaphors and similes can build images that the reader can relate to.

A multiplicity of images, image clusters or word chains, are groupings that speak to each other or create a clever juxtaposition. Used together, the central images will elicit a certain emotion or mood in certain scenes or an entire short story or novel. More importantly, the images will keep themes and characters linked throughout the story.

The repetition of the same or similar images in a scene or story will trigger the same sensation in the reader and help you, as a writer, to emphasise certain themes.

The images could include animals or birds (for example, use dogs to show loyalty or companionship), symbols (the loss of a wedding ring), art (a rare painting), or even other images themselves (old photographs, home movies, etc.).

6 | Visualise A Unique Point Of View

As a writer, you could limit your character’s point of view to create a visual ‘edge’.

For example, imagine you are writing a scene where a teenager is recovering from a hangover on a sofa while his father lectures him on the dangers of alcohol.

He is too tired to move much, so from his limited point of view he can only see things at eye-level. His father’s belly pressing against his polo shirt, the hairs on his father’s knuckles, the Spaniel curled up at his bare feet.

Perhaps, when his head is very sore, he places a washcloth over his eyes, and he can only hear what his father is saying from the cool darkness.

Similarly, you can use this visual technique to highlight sound in a story. Imagine a scene where a young woman is enduring the endless gossip of group of older women in the stifling summer room of a grand home.

Slowly, she becomes aware of a bee trapped in the curtains, beating against the window.  The soft drone of the bee becomes a focal and auditory point for this character as the chatter of the women fades into the background.

7 |Deliver Tension Visually

As writers, we can also use visual storytelling to bring a key scene to life and to release a build-up of tension.

In the novel ‘The Face of Trespass’ (1974), suspense author Ruth Rendell manages this superbly:  He began to walk towards her. Before he was halfway down the path, before he could fetch a word from his dry throat, the thicket of bracken split open. It burst with a crack like tearing sacking and the big golden dog leapt upon him, the violence of her embrace softened by the wet warmth of her tongue and the rapture in her kind eyes.

The appearance of the dog is a pivotal and powerful moment in the book and sets about a major reversal for the main character.

When we look at the scene, it is focused on movement. The focus is dramatic: it has sound, colour, tension, and a strong sense of emotion.

We see this sense of violent movement in the first line of Jack of Spades (2015), a short novel by Joyce Carol Oates : Out of the air, the axe.

When we read this line, we almost want to physically duck out of the way of the weapon. The line seems to come out of nowhere! With just six words, the author leaves us tense and fearful. She has created this feeling through visceral, visual storytelling.

And later, she adds in detail about the brutal attack:  A fleeting glimpse of the assailant’s stubby fingers and dead-white ropey-muscled arms inside the flimsy sleeves of nightwear .

We can note, from the visual details she provides, the swiftness of the scene (‘fleeting glimpse’) and the cadaverous power of the assailant (‘dead-white ropey-muscled arms’).

8 | Follow The Main Character’s Eye

When we are deeply attached to a singular character, we tend to extract more from visual techniques.

If we go inside the character and see other characters from his eyes, our stories become stronger and more reliable. In essence, we filter the story through the lens of the primary character’s experiences and emotions.

Here is an extract from Forbidden Colours (1951) by Yukio Mishima .

The young man turned once again and glanced at the old man. Perhaps it was the effect of the summer sun shining across his eyelashes, but his eyes were quite dark. Shunsuké wondered why the youth, who had shone so resplendently earlier in his nakedness, had lost his air of happiness, if nothing more. The youth took another path. It was going to be difficult to keep up with him.

The viewpoint character here is an old writer, almost at the end of his life. We sense his obsession with youth and beauty through the way he looks at the handsome young man who has stolen the writer’s young mistress.

Note, too, how the ‘letterbox’ focus draws our attention to the young man’s eyes.

9 | Bring Setting To Life In Pictures

Setting is integral to good storytelling. It creates atmosphere and paints a picture of the landscape in which the characters found themselves.

Let us look at a scene from the novel, Life Sentences (2005) by Alice Blanchard .

He dropped her off at a small, ugly motel in the middle of West Los Angeles. A low-grade fear was making her ill. The sky was deep cobalt, and the closer you looked, the more stars you could see. She paid the driver, who tipped his hat and sped off. Then she dragged her luggage across the asphalt toward the manager’s office. The middle-aged manager had a face like a tight ball. His mouth was slightly open, and he stared at the colour TV on his desk. A ball game was playing. ‘Daisy Hubbard,’ she said. ‘I made a reservation.’

The scene not only shows us the shabbiness of the motel, but it mirrors the emotional exhaustion of the character.

Except for a glimpse of the stars, the descriptions are bland, urban and one-dimensional. Throughout the descriptions, we sense that Daisy is not excited to be here.

Top Tip : Buy the Visual Storytelling Workbook

10| Frame A Scene Like A Camera

A movie camera follows its subjects as a silent, technical observer and, as such, creates a detached point of view. The camera is merely a tool to be manipulated. It can stay in the background, or it can track in for a close-up and, sometimes, even for an extreme close-up – but it doesn’t provide judgement.

In his book, Characters & Viewpoint (1988), Orson Scott Card says cinematic narration is cool and distant in that it ‘gives no attitude, except as it is revealed by facial expressions, gestures, pauses, words.’

I used this technique in an experimental short story I wrote, ‘The Fischers’ (2020):

The chair reclines, a white replica Le Corbusier. A long body follows the curve of the chair: toffee-coloured corduroy trousers, black roll-neck sweater. Dr. Dominic Fischer lies back and touches the edges of the black VR goggles that cover his eyes. He waves his arm as if he is holding an invisible conductor’s baton. The symphony plays through the headset. He moves his head like a blind man. The light comes in between the bristles of his beard, the grey stands out like tiny iron filings.

I wanted to capture the emotional isolation of a family in lockdown, the ‘detached’ camera point of view helped me achieve this effect.

The Last Word

I trust these 10 powerful visual storytelling techniques help you write your next short story or novel.

Anthony Ehlers

If you enjoyed this post, read:

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a screenplay, sign up for our online course:  The Script

© Writers Write 2022

85+ Picture Writing Prompts For Kids (+ Free Printable)

A picture is worth a thousand words. So how many words can you write for these 85 picture writing prompts for kids and grow-ups alike! Pictures, whether something as simple as an apple or as complex as an action scene can spark the imagination in more ways than one.

Of course, when looking at pictures you can take the literal route, and describe whatever you see in front of you. Or you can explore your imagination, and think about the ‘What Ifs..’ of a picture. What if that person is actually upset? What if this picture is of a broken family? What if the world looked like this years ago? A picture can have so many hidden meanings and can hide so many secrets. The slightest detail could mean everything. Just imagine you’re a detective solving a crime from one picture alone. Examine every detail, write it down and think why? Only then can you fully understand a picture.

For more inspiration take part in our daily picture writing prompt challenge . Each day you will be given a new picture prompt to write about.

Picture Prompt Generator

In this post, we have included a mix of simple pictures, story picture prompts, photographs, fantasy images and even some action-packed images.

You can find the complete list of our picture writing prompts below. We’ve also created a smaller PDF version that includes 30 random picture prompts. Download the printable PDF here .

You might also be interested in the following posts:

150 Picture Prompts To Inspire

Over 85 picture prompts for creative writing, story-telling and descriptive writing assignments:

picture writing prompt 1

How to Use these Prompts

Picture prompts are the perfect writing stimulus especially when you hit writer’s block . Here are a number of ways you can use these picture writing prompts to spark your imagination:

These are just some ways to use images as writing prompts. You can also check our post on 8 fun story-telling games using image prompts for more ideas.  Did you find our picture writing prompts useful? Let us know in the comments below!

picture writing prompts

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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Journey to Kidlit

The Picture Book Plot Structure Step-by-Step Breakdown

Take the first step to writing your children’s book story. Download the free children’s book template here to help you get started.

The most popular type of children’s book that people choose to write is the picture book. But these short stories can be hard to write if you don’t know what the plot structure looks like. So what is the picture book plot structure ?

Unless you’re writing a concept book, you’ll want to use this structure every time you sit down to write your story. Let’s check out the breakdown below.

The Picture Book Plot Structure Step-by-Step Breakdown:

When you first start to write a picture book, you think it’s going to be easy. They are only 500 words, how hard can that be? Well, it’s actually harder than you think because you have to tell a complete story within that small word count.

But when you use this simple picture book plot structure it becomes easier to tell your story using few words. And it’s reusable! (So every time you sit down to write a new picture book, you use the same formula.) Okay, so here’s what the picture book plot structure looks like:

Step 1 – Introduction

This is the beginning of your story. It’s your job to choose how you want to invite the reader in. A good way to learn how to write an awesome introduction is by reading lots and lots of picture books . That will help you get a sense of what other writers are doing today.

But for your story, you’ll want to start in one of two ways: introducing us to your character or dropping us right into the action of a scene. Bonus, if you can do both at the same time!

Step 2 – Introduce the Problem

Then right after your introduction, you let the reader know what problem needs to be solved. This is the main purpose of your story. The crux of your whole plot. And you should let them know it in the first 50 words!

How you want to write in your problem is up to you, but you need to reveal it quickly, and it needs to be apparent to the reader.

Step 3 – Solution Attempt #1

Now that we know who our story’s about and what problem we need to solve, it’s time to find a solution. Obviously, we don’t want the solution to appear on the very next page — that wouldn’t make it a very exciting story!

So we incorporate what’s known in picture book plot structure as the Rule of 3. Meaning your character has to try (and fail) three times before they can solve their problem.

Step 4 – Solution Attempt #2

And each time you introduce a new solution attempt, the stakes need to get higher.

Since this is only a picture book, we don’t want the stakes to be as dire as they would be in a YA novel. So your failures could be something smaller like they ignored the letter he wrote them or everyone still laughed at his hat. Something that’s relatable to young children.

Step 5 – Solution Attempt #3

Then we get to the final solution attempt. This has to be it, right? We’ve tried and tried to solve our problem. The solution should be here right? Wrong. There’s still this last hurdle we have to overcome.

Step 6 – Climax/Sense of Failure or Doubt

Because your poor character has tried three different things or ways to help solve their problem, they get a sense that it’s never going to work. That they’re always going to have this problem.

This is what’s known in the picture book plot structure as the climax of the book. It’s the sense that all hope is lost. (Even if it’s something as minor as they can’t find their favorite food to eat. To a kid, even the minor stuff is big stuff!)

Step 7 – Solution/Ending

Finally! We made it to the ending. Your character finds one more solution that might work to solve their problem and this time it actually does! Now, your character has grown full circle and has turned a new leaf. They’ve changed from who they were at the start of the book and have found the perfect solution to their problem.

An important thing to note about this final step is that your child character MUST solve the problem themselves. They cannot have anyone else, especially a grown-up, do it for them.

And there you have it! The complete step-by-step breakdown of the picture book plot structure: Introduction to the main character and problem they’ll face, three attempts to try to solve it, climax where they think it’ll never happen, and finally the perfect solution. (Bonus if you can find an unexpected ending!)

If you’d like more help writing your picture book grab the free children’s book template here to help you write your story.

And for more tips on writing picture books, check out these other articles around the blog:

Try the Picture Book Plot Structure Today!

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thank you for the tidbits. looking to continue with my children book writing in the new year 2021. have a beginning for a book named “bubble gum shoes” inspired to me about my grand-daughter who witnessed bullying from the kids at school boys and girls, leaves to move to the country with her grand parents., the shoes were shoes that looked like bubblegum on the top with all color pebble like on them. she wore them everyday having moved from the city. excited for this is my second children’s book. first in production now, DNA, dolls nanna afternoons, growing up on the beach in New Jersey with Grand-mom. I look forward to your emails.

Awe, how wonderful! Glad I can help you along your journey. Can’t wait to hear how your writing goes 😃

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Picture Books to Teach Literary Techniques

I’ve been sharing a little series of posts about how to use living literature to teach writing – specifically, narratives and persuasive pieces .  In this post, I’m focusing less on a particular style of writing and more on writing with style – otherwise known as literary techniques.

No matter the age of your children, you can use these picture books to teach literary techniques.  However, since I don’t begin formal writing lessons until 5th or 6th grade, I only casually mention the literary techniques to elementary students.  So, yes, you read correctly…When it comes to actual writing lessons, I’m using these picture books with middle and high school kids !

Teaching literary techniques can help writers take their stories to the next level. Picture books written by master authors can quickly and efficiently teach the techniques for you.

Why use picture books to teach literary techniques?

While I could (and do) certainly use longer literary works and poetry to demonstrate literary techniques, picture books make for quick reads that get the lesson concept across clearly.  Not to mention, {living} picture books are really good at helping young writers learn how to compose short pieces well.  Most young writers I meet aren’t writing 300 page novels in the beginning.  In fact, asking them to write three pages can be overwhelming.  Picture books help writers see that even short stories can be written well.

What is a literary technique?

Don’t be confused.  Literary techniques are not the same as literary elements.   Both are important in writing!  I like to think of literary elements as the building blocks of a story, while literary techniques use words artistically.

Literary elements – characters, setting, plot, theme, moral – are the basic parts included in most stories.

Literary techniques – alliteration, metaphors, onomatopoeia, personification – might or might not be included in a story.  They play with words to develop interest and variety.

Together, these are known as literary devices.  Both are important to purposely teach and develop.  Today, I’ll only focus on literary techniques.  There are many literary techniques used in writing .  I’ve only included books that teach the most common techniques to get you started.

While it’s first on my list alphabetically, allegory is actually the most difficult technique (of those I’ve included) because it’s typically used throughout an entire story, rather than here and there like other techniques.  An allegory tells one story, while the underlying meaning transfers to something else.  That’s hard to understand, isn’t it?

The Squire and the Scroll

As an example, The Squire and the Scroll tells the story of a young squire who must bravely follow the words from his scroll in order to survive and even defeat an evil dragon.  The allegory of the story helps readers understand the importance of purity and following the Word of God.

The Dot


Alliteration uses the same letter or sound several times throughout a sentence, paragraph or story.  It’s used to focus the reader’s attention.

An example:  Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Some Smug Slug

Hyperbole, otherwise known as exaggeration, is another technique that tends to be used throughout an entire story rather than in just a few places within a story.  Many of us would call these stories “tall tales.”  Tall tales usually have an element of humor in them, making these fun to write.

Kate and the Beanstalk (Anne Schwartz Books)

If I’m being truthful, idioms drive me crazy!  My youngest son loves them, though, so I get to read lots and lots of idioms.  His favorite idiom stories are the Amelia Bedelia books.  If you’ve ever read Amelia Bedelia, you’ll know that she takes idioms literally.  If someone tells her to dress a turkey, she puts clothing on a turkey.  Idioms, then, are phrases that shouldn’t really be taken literally like “it’s raining cats and dogs.”

Amelia Bedelia (I Can Read Book)

Imagery is vivid and descriptive language that paints wonderful pictures in the reader’s mind as it evokes the senses.  Obviously, imagery utilizes adjectives, adverbs and rich words well.  An example: “The aroma of freshly brewed hot chocolate filled the room making everyone feel warm and cozy.”

Butterfly House

When something is ironic, it’s the opposite of what you would have expected.  In the book Caps for Sale , for instance, the peddler tries and tries to get monkeys to take his caps off of their heads.  Ironically, once he gets angry and throws his cap down, the monkeys (mimicking his every move) throw the caps down.  It’s not at all what the peddler expected.  It was ironic that they did what he wanted when he stopped trying.

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Metaphors and Similes

Both metaphors and similes compare things.  Typically, similes use the words “like or as” within the phrase of comparison.  For example, “I was as cold as ice.”  Or, “It felt like a razor on my back.”

Metaphors make comparisons without using the words “like or as.”  For example. “The store was a gold mine.”  Or, “The fog was a curtain.”

In both cases, the techniques help readers to build clear mind pictures.  I love how easily they can be inserted into any type of writing to create a strong impact.

Amber on the Mountain (Picture Puffins)


Onomatopoeia is such a big word for such an easy technique.  Basically, any word that sounds like its name is onomatopoeia.  “Achoo” “Buzz” “Creak” “Zoom” “Pop”

These words, used sparingly, can pack a lot of emotion into a story.

Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type


Personification is one of my favorite literary techniques.  Any time a non-human takes on characteristics of a human in stories, it’s called personification.  So, when a tree can think or a mouse can talk or a car has feelings, that’s personification.  We see examples of personification all over the place, but these three books have made me happy for years and years, so they get the honor of being highlighted.

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge: Restored Edition

How do you use the books?

Usually, I introduce my children (or co-op students) to the literary technique first.  I give them a definition and some examples, then ask them to help me come up with some examples.

Next, we’ll read the book together paying special attention to the use of the technique.

Afterwards, we’ll talk about how the author crafted his or her words and made the technique really work with the story.  Again, we work together to write some examples.  (These are always better than the examples before the book was read!)

Sometimes I just challenge the kids to use the technique more often.  Other times, we go directly into some story writing time where they must use the technique effectively.

And, there you have it.  Use a few of these books to teach your writing lessons and watch your writers grow exponentially!

Need a little more direction in how to use picture books to teach writing?

I taught a practical class that can help!

Teaching writing to children doesn't have to be hard. Learn how to use picture books to help children in 5th-12th grades learn to write well.

Be sure to check out the other posts in this series to get ideas for using picture books with various styles of writing and literary techniques!

Picture books are great tools to teach writing styles! Great lesson ideas here!


Loving this series! Thank you for making it easy for us to incorporate wonderful books into the teaching of writing. What a fun way to learn about these writing techniques! You are a blessing!

Corinne, YOU are a blessing for taking the time to share such a sweet comment!

This is SUCH a great post, cindy!

Thank you, Alicia! Picture books are my happy place.

Thanks for this series–I really am enjoying it, and taking notes for upcoming lessons. Picture books are the best!

Cindy, you just really inspire me! Every time I visit your blog, I am more inspired to teach my children with more creativity and enthusiasm. This is a great post, and my all-time favorite picture book is on this list: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble–such a moving book. It takes you to utter despair and then to elation, all within 32 pages! Cindy, I used to be a more eclectic homeschool mom, like you, but now I have two toddlers who capitalize almost all my energy, and I am not sure how to fit it in anymore. My oldest kids are very independent learners, and they take pride in that, but I want to be more involved, like when we read lots of picture books together. I guess I haven’t found that balance. At least I can do all that sort of stuff with my two youngest ones.

Alicia, I hear you about balance! That’s definitely tough and I’ve been there. I finally decided it was really OK for my big kids to work mostly independently (and is very good for them.) I’m not constantly hands-on with them in every subject. And, I KNOW you are an awesome teacher for your kids! 😉

This is my first time visiting your blog and I just have to thank you! This is awesome! My kids and I will love revisiting some of these books that we did unit studies on long ago! I have used a picture book called “Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One” with kids in upper elementary to help understand literary elements of a short story. I love these ideas for introducing literary techniques as well. Thanks so much for sharing.

Thank you, Melissa! I can wait to check out the book you mentioned!

These look like some great suggestions – I love using picture books with older kids!

This is fantastic! You know, I would happily buy a download that included these and more of the literary techniques illustrated through children’s books. Such a great and accessible way to demonstrate this! Also- I just want to thank you for linking to Barnes and Noble instead of Amazon. I worked there for several years before leaving to homeschool, and I loved every minute of it. My co-workers were awesome & many of them are still working there. Just appreciate anything that keeps a brick-and-mortar afloat & helps out my friends .

Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing this with me! I’ve had a few other requests for a download recently. It’s definitely on my to do someday soon list. 🙂

Very helpful and inspiring. You are such an angel full of blessings. Would feel lucky if more knowledge in children’s literature and writing style is provided.

I’m glad it was helpful, Minu! 🙂

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Story Writing Academy

70 Picture Prompts for Creative Writing (with Free Slides)

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Visual writing prompts help young writers generate new ideas and overcome writer’s block. We’ve put together 70 picture prompts for creative writing that you can use in your writing centers or lesson plans to get your students’ creative juices flowing.


Picture Writing Prompts for All Ages

Writers of all ages and experience levels can get stuck thinking about what to write. Writer’s block is not just a challenge for reluctant writers. Even professional writers have days when they feel less than inspired.

Visual prompts can result in a vast array of story ideas. A single image viewed by ten writers will result in ten completely different stories. Even if you use verbal cues to get students thinking about the picture, each student will still write a unique response to the image.

Visual creative writing prompts are fantastic for elementary school because younger students often relate more to a pictorial prompt than a written one, but don’t shy away from using these with high school and middle school students as well. Pictures make a fun alternative to your typical writing prompts and story starters and can help shake up your regular routine.

How to Use Picture Prompts for Creative Writing

There’s no limit to the ways you can use writing prompts. Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate image prompts into your writing times.

No matter how you decide to use them—whether at home or in the classroom—photographic writing prompts are a great way to cultivate a daily writing habit and encourage kids to explore new topics.

70 Pictures for Writing Prompts

We’ve selected 70 of the most interesting pictures we could find for this exercise. When choosing photos for writing prompts, we look for high-quality photos with intriguing subject matter, but we try to go beyond that. We want to share images that suggest a story, that make the viewer ask questions and wonder why things are the way they are.

We want to feel propelled to explore questions like, What happened before the photo that led to this moment? What are we witnessing in this photo? What’s about to happen?

A photo doesn’t make much of a story starter if it doesn’t suggest that there might be a bigger picture lurking beneath the surface.

We hope you and your students love these picture prompts for creative writing as much as we do. If you love them, go ahead and scroll to the bottom to grab your own copy.

We’ve included a couple of questions with each picture that you could use to spark pre-writing conversations in your classroom, which can be helpful when working with younger students who might need a little more direction.

picture story writing techniques

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Whose cat is this? What is he looking at? Where is he?

a cat sits alone against a blue wall

What is the owl thinking about? Is he alone? What does he hope to eat for dinner?

an owl sits outside

Who are these frogs? What is their relationship with each other? Why are they taking photos?

two toy frogs stand in a field. One takes pictures of the other.

How did the dog get a phone? Why is he taking selfies? What is he doing with the pictures he takes?

a dog lays on a field and takes selfies

This cat doesn’t look too happy. What’s bugging him? Did he get too many phone calls or is he waiting on an important call that’s taking too long to come?

a black and white cat sits beside a phone

What do these chicks think of the dog? What does the dog think of the chicks? Do you think they can communicate with each other? If so, what would they say?

a dog lies beside two chicks

Where do these lemurs live? What are they looking at? What is something unusual that might happen to them?

a lemur lies on a branch while another hides in the background

What is this fox doing? Is he yawning and stretching or is he trying to scare someone away? What kind of mischief does he like to get up to?

a fox stretches and opens its mouth

Is this wolf alone? If not, who is with him? What is he planning to do? Does he have a family to feed or protect?

a lone wolf stands in a misty clearing

What is this child doing on the laptop? Can he actually read and type or is he just playing? If he can read and type, how did he learn that at such a young age? What other cool things can he do?

a toddler wearing a toque and glasses types on a laptop

Where is this woman? Is she lost? How did she get to this street? What interesting things might she discover as she explores this new city?

a woman stands in an empty street holding a map

Why is the dog wearing glasses? Can he see through them? What are he and the girl doing? How does he feel about it?

a woman holds a dog. Both wear glasses.

Who are these two little boys? What is their relationship with each other? What is the teddy bear’s story?

two boys sit in a bath holding a teddy bear

Who are these children? Why are they running? Is it a race or are they playing a game? Who’s going to win?

a group of children run across a field

Whose horse is this? Does the little boy own it or does he just visit it? Can the horse talk? How does the boy feel when he’s with the horse?

a boy sits on a fence and feeds a horse

What is this boy reading? Does the book have magical powers? Does the boy? Do the stories in the book become real or does something else special happen?

a boy reads a book that has some magical elements in it

Where is this man? How did he get there? What is he looking for?

a man dressed like a pirate looks through a telescope

Who is walking over the bridge? What’s on the other side? Is it worth the risk?

a top-down view of a person crossing a bridge

What are these people doing on the elephant? Where are they? Are they tourists or is the elephant their pet? What would life with an elephant be like?

two people ride an elephant through a field

Who made this map? It looks old. Has it been hidden away for a long time? Who discovered it and how? What does it lead to?

an old map

Whose typewriter is this? What important or secretive thing might they be working on? What could happen if the wrong person finds their work?

an old typewriter

Who are these three stuffed animals? Are they living? What is their story?

the backs of three stuffed animals

Whose ukulele is this? Why did they leave it here? Who might find it?

a green ukulele sticks out of the sand

Where is the owner of the bike? Where does this path lead? What if the bike’s not there when the owner returns?

a bike leans against a wooden railing

Whose shoes are these? Why did they leave them here? Why are they so dirty?

a pair of dirty shoes in the mud

Who was reading the newspaper? What was the most interesting thing they read? Where have they disappeared to?

a stack of newspapers, a white cup, and a pair of glasses

Who put this sign on the old truck? What do you think of it? How did the truck end up in its current condition and location?

a deserted old truck

Who set the table? Who are they expecting? What special occasion are they celebrating? What could go wrong?

a fancy table setting

Whose birthday cake is this? Are they having a party? Who is there? Who did they want to have there that didn’t show up?

a birthday cake

Who lives here? How do they access their home? What is their life like?

a home surrounded by water

Who built the igloo? Where is it? How does it feel to spend the night inside it?

an igloo

What is the history of this castle? Who lives in it now? Does it have any special or magical features?

a castle

Is this barn abandoned or do people live on the property? What kind of animals might live here? How do they keep themselves entertained?

a big red barn

What is it like living on a houseboat? What kind of community do you think forms among the neighbors? Imagine you live on one of these boats and think about how your daily life might change. What interesting things could you do if you lived here? What would you miss the most?

a row of houseboats

Where is this hut? Who lives here? What mystery might unfold if a stranger came knocking at their door?

a round hut

What is this lighthouse called? Who runs it? How often do they leave? What is the most memorable experience they’ve had as a lighthouse operator?

a lighthouse

How did this house get here? Does anyone live in it? What would life be like here?

a house on a rock surrounded by water

Where is this festive street? Are the people there celebrating something? Where is everybody?

a colorful European town

Who lives here? How did they build this house? Are they hiding from something? What does it look like inside?

a hobbit house with a yellow door

Whose notebook is this? Why did they leave it here? What’s written in it and how might it change the life of the person who finds it?

a notebook lying on a beach

What are these women doing? What are they supposed to be doing? Will they be in trouble if they get caught?

two women playing on a piece of wood

Who might be represented in this statue? Why is she being pulled by lions? What amazing things might she have done to deserve a statue in this prominent place?

a statue of a woman being pulled in a carriage by two lions

Where is this? Who is riding in the hot air balloons? Where are they going and why?

hot air balloons fly over a town

How old is this tree? Where is it? What are some of the most fascinating stories it could tell?

an old oak tree

Where is this carousel? Who is riding it? Can you think of a special or strange story about how it came to exist in this particular place?

a woman rides a carousel

What are these people thinking about? What’s at stake for them? What happens if one of them sneezes?

tightrope walkers walk on tightropes

Where are these penguins? What are they talking about? Which one of them is the leader?

4 penguins stand in a huddle

What is this place? Was it designed to be open like this or was it once part of someone’s home or a public building? How have people’s opinions of this place changed over time?

a room with statues in it

Who are these kids? Is this what they’re supposed to be doing? What happens when their teacher sees them?

kids play around in a dance studio

Who is supposed to ride in this boat? Where are they going? Will they make it there?

a small boat with a fancy seat

Is this plane special to someone? What did they have to do to get it/build it? Where will they fly to in it?

a yellow plane

Who decorated this train car? Which passengers will fill it up? What will they talk about?

an upscale train car with fancy seats

Whose skis are these? Why are they sticking out of the snow? How did their owner get down the mountain without them?

two skis and two poles stick out of a snowbank

Where does this gondola go? Who rides it? How does it feel to ride it?

a gondola

Who’s driving the monster truck? Why is it at the beach? What is it going to crush? Who is watching?

a monster truck does tricks on a beach

Where is the boat going? Who is on it? What is their mission?

a ship sails away from shore

What city is the helicopter flying over? Why? Is the driver looking for something specific or do they have a special delivery?

a helicopter flies over a city

What’s the little boy doing in the boat? Is he alone or is someone with him? Where is he trying to go?

a little boy holds an oar in a boat

Who is in the sub? What’s it like inside? What are they doing?

a submarine

Whose book is this? What’s it about? What’s happening to it?

a book that has water flowing out of it

How did that piece of land with the house on it break off from the rest of the world? Why? Where is it going? Is anyone in the house?

a fantasy graphic with a piece of land separating from the earth and floating away

Who is this girl? Where is she? Who is she shooting at?

a woman in the woods shoots a bow and arrow

Where does this scene take place? Is the lizard/dragon good or bad? What is its relationship with the girl?

a girl standing on the tip of a cliff pats the nose of a giant lizard

What do these books represent? What kind of world is this? What (or who) is inside the books?

a row of books designed to look like houses

What are these dinosaurs discussing? Where are they? What do they do for fun?

two dinosaurs

Whose cottage is this? Do they still live there? If not, where have they gone? If so, what do they do there?

a fairy tale cottage in the woods

What is the moth thinking about? Is it alone? What’s the biggest challenge it faces in this moment?

a moth on a flower

Who is the owl looking at? Has it read these books? What is its greatest talent?

an owl wearing beside a stack of books

Where are these trees? Why are they pink? Do they have any special powers or features?

trees in a wood covered with something pink

What do you think? Which kind of pictures do you like best for creative writing prompts ? Let us know in the comments.

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picture story writing techniques


Shape and size of picture book.

picture story writing techniques

Badar Academy

No. 1 Academy Initial & ISSB Test

ISSB Picture Story Writing Guidelines

ISSB Picture Story Writing Guidelines

Issb Picture Story Writing is very important part of Issb Test. The process of test is very simple. you have to write a story of a picture shown on multimedia. These pictures are;

This Test help to assess the nature of perception of a person. This is a very effective tool for Psychologists.

ISSB Picture story writing is also called Thematic Apprehension Test in Psychological Term

Number of Pictures

A sum total of  4 pictures  will be shown to you on the multimedia. Each picture will last for a limited period of time so that you can write down a story.

A single picture will be shown for  30 seconds  and then more 30 seconds will be given to you to make a story out of it. After that, you will be given  3.5 minutes  to write down a story. The same process will be repeated for other 3 pictures.

Important Guidelines for ISSB Picture Story Writing

Example for ISSB Picture Story Writing

ISSB Picture Story Writing 1

Test your ISSB Picture Story Writing skills

If you want to check your skills and want to know a professional Feedback of our Trainer, Fill out the below details and submit your story.

picture story writing techniques

An ESL Lesson: Writing a Story Using Picture Prompts and Correction Marks

To the teacher: I took the idea for this lesson from an ESL workbook that I used many years ago. Nothing remains of the book, but for this picture, which I now use as a prompt to get students to write a story together. My lesson is very different from the lesson that was in the workbook originally so there is no plagiarism here—all I can do is thank those forgotten authors from long ago. All good lessons get borrowed and become the lessons of others.

… Objective:

By working together students will write a story after making a list of words that they will need to write it.

Teacher talk and discussion Groups of three, individuals

Bilingual dictionaries Newsprint and markers Blue painter’s tape

High beginner to low intermediate but a good teacher can make a lesson accommodate any student level

PDF File: Picture Prompts and Correction Marks:

Pig Story, Picture Prompts and Correction Marks

… Progression: …

picture story writing techniques

Looking and discussing. Place students in groups of three and hand out the pictures. Tell them that they are going to make a list of all the words they see when they look at the six pictures. They may use bi-lingual dictionaries to find the words they know in their own languages, but not in English. Tell them they are going to make a list of all the nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs that they see, especially the verbs. What’s happening? …

picture story writing techniques

Making a list and discussing the words listed. Students may write their lists on newsprint or on the board. When the lists are finished, hang them up on the wall in different parts of the classroom. Now, the students in their groups should get up and go from newsprint to newsprint examining the words. Some students like to stay seated, but get them up and interacting. Everybody looks at all the words generated. Most words, of course, will be similar, but some will not. Focus on the differences, the spelling, and what part of speech each word is.

Note: for hanging up newsprint, by the way, I like to use blue painter’s tape because it doesn’t leave marks on the wall when the lesson is over and the newsprint is taken down. …

picture story writing techniques

Writing a story. Using their new vocabulary, each group will write a story creating it together. Tell them to choose one tense to write in, either the simple past or the simple present. There can be one designated writer, or students can take turns writing, but all the students in the group must add words and ideas to the story. The teacher circulates to make sure that this is happening. All hands on deck! …

picture story writing techniques

Reading and correcting the story. As each group finishes, the teacher can take the newsprint and hang it up. But before the groups get up to read the stories, the teacher should familiarize them with correction marks first because the students are going to need to know how to use them so that they can edit and rewrite later. I have provided a list of correction marks below that my students have used successfully.

Once the students have reviewed the correction marks, let them get up in their groups and look over every story. Give each group a marker to make their own corrections. When finished, every story should have correction marks from every group. The teacher, after the students have corrected, goes over every story one more time to point out any correction errors and make any final corrections.

… Correction Marks

picture story writing techniques

To the teacher : I did the corrections in the story above. It was the first time the class worked together, so I modeled the correcting. Honestly, any correction mark, even a simple check, will do as long as it designates the spot where an error has occurred: knowing where the mistake is is what is important.

Using more specific correction marks allows teachers to indicate mistakes without correcting the work themselves. Letting students know what kind of correction is needed, alerts them to the kind of mistake they have made so they can more easily narrow in on what they need to do to correct it.

There can be several drafts where teacher and student work together toward a perfect paper, but on each draft the teacher indicates where the correction is needed and the student makes the correct correction. The teacher should never rewrite the student’s paper. The student must do that. …

When students work in groups, they get to know each other better and that is dynamic for a class. And, after working together students are much more able to work alone. The skills students observe in others become their own. …

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… I saw Janet Hamill at Bowery Poetry on Sunday, February 10. Anton Yakovlev runs a Sunday afternoon reading there, and this was the first I …

… Scott Hightower’s newest book of poems, Tartessos, takes place in western Spain, recording landscapes and cities, the history of politicians and artists, people the poet …

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Hi Don. I love this lesson! Do you have the picture prompts available?

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I have added a downloadable PDF file.

Thank you, Don. I’m going to download the pictures when I get to school!

Please let me know if it works.

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Wow, that’s absolutely amazing, I’ll do it when i start teaching

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Quite sure it’s an effective method. Please, where can I get more

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Thanks for sharing this amazing post. It will be helpful to my daughter to read your article

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Genuine advice. Really helpful.

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How to Write a Short Story in 6 Simple Steps

Writing a short novel can be a challenge: in the space of a few pages you’ll have to develop characters, build tension up to a climax, and resolve the main conflict. 

To help you with the process, here's how to write a short story step-by-step:

1. Identify a short story idea

2. define the character’s main conflict and goal, 3. hook readers with a strong beginning , 4. draft a middle focused on the story’s message, 5. write a memorable ending, 6. refine the plot and structure of your short story.

Step by step, we’ll show you how to take a blank page and spin it into short-form narrative gold.

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Before you can put your head down and write your story , you first need an idea you can run with. Some writers can seemingly pluck interesting ideas out of thin air but if that’s not you, then fear not. Here are some tips and tricks that will get your creative juices flowing and have you drumming up ideas in no time.

Pro-tip: Interested in writing short stories? We recommend taking this free 10-day course taught by professional editor Laura Mae Isaacman. 

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How to Craft a Killer Short Story

From pacing to character development, master the elements of short fiction.

Start with an interesting character or setting

Short stories, by their very nature, tend to be narrower in scope than a novel. There’s less pressure to have a rich narrative mapped out from A to Z before your pen hits the paper. Short story writers often find it fruitful to focus on a single character, setting , or event — an approach that is responsible for some true classics. 

John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” is about one character: a suburban American father who decides to swim through all of his neighbor’s pools. While Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” has a larger cast of characters, the story takes place perhaps over one hour in a town square. By limiting yourself to a few characters and one or two locations, you may find it easier to keep your story from getting out of hand and spiraling off into tangents.

Mine your own anecdotes

When it comes to establishing a story’s premise, real-life experiences can be your first port of call — “write what you know”, as the old adage goes. While you might not have lived through an epic saga akin to Gulliver’s Travels, you probably have an anecdote or two that would easily form the basis of a short story. If there’s a funny story you always reach for at a party or a family dinner, you could repurpose for a piece of writing or let it serve as a launchpad for your imagination.

Eavesdrop and steal

There is beauty in the mundane. Writers these days often have a document open in their phone’s notes app to remember things that might spark their imagination at a later date. After all, something you overhear in a conversation between your aunties could be perfect short story fodder — as could a colorful character who turns up at your workplace. Whether these experiences are the basis for a story or function as a small piece of embellishment, they can save your imagination from having to do all the heavy lifting.

It’s not just your own life you can take inspiration from either. Pay extra attention to the news, the stories your friends tell you, and all the things that go on around — it will surely serve you well when it comes to brainstorming a story.

These little snippets can serve as the genesis of a story, or could even make it in verbatim as inspiration for your dialogue. Want more dialogue writing tips? We've got a free course for that.

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How to Write Believable Dialogue

Master the art of dialogue in 10 five-minute lessons.

Try a writing prompt on for size

If you’re still stumped, looking through some short story ideas or writing prompts for inspiration. Any stories that are written with these resources are still your intellectual property, so you can freely share or publish them if they turn out well!

Once you have your idea (which could be a setting, character, or event), try to associate it with a strong emotion. Think of short stories as a study of feeling — rather than a full-blown plot, you can home in on an emotion and let that dictate the tone and narrative arc. Without this emotion core, you may find that your story lacks drive and will struggle to engage the reader. 

With your emotionally charged idea ready to go, let’s look at structure.

You might be tempted to apply standard novel-writing strategies to your story: intricately plotting each event, creating detailed character profiles , and of course, painstakingly mapping it onto a popular story framework with a beginning, middle, and end. But all you really need is a well-developed main character and one or two big events at most.

Short stories should have an inciting incident and a climax

A short story, though more concise, can still have all of the narrative components we’d expect from a novel — though the set up, inciting incident, and climax might just be a sentence or two. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, writers should aim to start their stories “as close to the end as possible”. Taking this advice to the extreme, you could begin your story in medias res , skipping all exposition and starting in the middle of the action, and sustaining tension from there on in.

What’s most important to remember is that short stories don't have the same privilege of time when it comes to exposition. To save time and make for a snappier piece of writing, it’s usually better to fold backstory into the rising action .

Each scene should escalate the tension

Another effective short story structure is the Fichtean Curve , which also skips over exposition and the inciting incident and starts with rising action. Typically, this part of the story will see the main character meet and overcome several smaller obstacles (with exposition snuck in), crescendoing with the climax. This approach encourages writers to craft tension-packed narratives that get straight to the point. Rarely do you want to resolve the main conflict in the middle of the story — if there’s an opportunity for tension, leave it open to keep the momentum going until the very end. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with structure and form

Short stories by design don’t really have the time to settle into the familiar shape of a classic narrative. However, this restriction gives you free rein to play around with chronology and point of view — to take risks, and be experimental. After all, if you’re only asking for 20 minutes of your readers’ time, they’re more likely to go along with an unusual storytelling style. Classic short stories like Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” did so well precisely because O’Connor redrew the parameters of the Southern Gothic genre as it was known — with its cast of characters, artfully sustained suspense and its shocking, gruesome ending.

Want to get creative with POV? Check out our free course to master the concept, and pick the perfect perspective for your story.

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Understanding Point of View

Learn to master different POVs and choose the best for your story.

A lot rides on the opening lines of a short story . You’ll want to strike the right tone, introduce the characters, and capture the reader’s attention all at once — and you need to do it quickly because you don’t have many words to work with! There are a few ways to do this, so let’s take a look at the options.

Start with an action

Starting with a bang — literally and figuratively — is a surefire way to grab your reader’s attention. Action is a great way to immediately establish tension that you can sustain throughout the story. This doesn’t have to be something hugely dramatic like a car crash (though it can be) — it can be as small and simple as missing a bus by a matter of seconds. So long as the reader understands that this action is in some way unusual, it can set the scene for the emotional turmoil that is to unfold.

Start with an insight

One highly effective method for starting a short story is to write an opening hook. A 'hook' can seem an obtuse word, but what it really means is a sentence that immediately garners intrigue and encourages your reader to read on.  For example, in “Mrs Dalloway” (originally a short story), Virginia Woolf opens with the line, “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” The reader then wonders: who is Mrs. Dalloway, why is she buying flowers, and is it unusual that she would do so herself? Such questions prompt the reader to continue with interest, looking for answers.

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Start with an image

Another popular way of opening a story by presenting your reader with a strong image. It could be a description of an object, a person, or even a location. It’s not to everyone’s taste (especially if you love plot driven stories), but when done well, a well-drawn image has the ability to linger on the reader’s mind. Let’s go back to our example of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”. This story starts opens with a vivid and detailed description of a village: The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. Though this description seems to be setting the stage for a pleasant, lighthearted tale, “The Lottery” actually takes a darker turn — making this opening image of an idyllic summer’s day even more eerie. When this story was published in The New Yorker, readers responded by sending in more letters than for any story that had come before — that’s how you know you’ve made an impact, right?

[ PRO-TIP : To read some of the best short stories, head here to find 31 must-read short story collections . ]

The old maxim of “write drunk, edit sober” has long been misattributed to Ernest Hemingway, a notorious drinker. While we do not recommend literally writing under the influence, there is something to be said for writing feely with your first draft.

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Don’t edit as you write

Your first draft is not going to be fit for human consumption. That’s not the point of it. Your goal with version 1 of the story is just to get something out on the page. You should have a clear sense of your story’s overall aim, so just sit down and write towards that aim as best you can. 

Avoid the temptation to noodle with word choice and syntax while you’re on the first draft: that part will come later. ‘Writing drunk’ means internalizing the confidence of someone on their second bottle of chablis. Behave as though everything you’re writing is amazing. If you make a spelling mistake? Who cares! Does that sentence make sense? You’ll fix that later!

Backstory is rarely needed

Hemingway ’s Iceberg Theory — correctly attributed to the man — is well suited to short stories. Like the physical appearance of an Iceberg, most of which is “under the surface”, much can be inferred about your story through a few craftily written sentences. Instead of being spoon-fed every single detail, your reader can ponder the subtext themselves and come to their own conclusions. The most classic example of this is “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” — a six-word story with a whole lot of emotionally charged subtext. (Note: that story is attributed to Hemingway, though that claim is also unsubstantiated!)

In short, don’t second-guess yourself and if your story truly needs more context, it can always be added in the next revision.

picture story writing techniques

Nothing is more disappointing to a reader than a beautifully written narrative with a weak ending. When you get to the end of your story , it may be tempting to dash off a quick one and be done with it— but don’t give in to temptation! There are countless ways to finish a story — and there’s no requirement to provide a tidy resolution — but we find that the most compelling endings will center on its characters .

What has changed about the character?

It’s typical for a story to put a protagonist through their paces as a means to tease out some kind of character development. Many stories will feature a classic redemption arc, but it’s not the only option. The ending might see the main character making a choice based on having some kind of profound revelation. Characters might change in subtler ways, though, arriving at a specific realization or becoming more cynical or hopeful. Or, they might learn absolutely nothing from the trials and tribulations they’ve faced. In O. Henry’s Christmas-set “The Gift of the Magi,” a young woman sells her hair to buy her husband a chain for his pocket watch. When the husband returns home that night, he reveals that he sold his watch to buy his wife a set of hair ornaments that she can now no longer use. The couple has spent the story worrying about material gifts but in the end, they have learned that real gift… is their love for one another.

Has our understanding of them changed?

Human beings are innately resistant to change. Instead of putting your characters through a great epiphany or moment of transformation, your ending could reveal an existing truth about them. For example, the ending might reveal that your seemingly likable character is actually a villain — or there may be a revelation that renders their morally dubious action in a kinder light. This revelation can also manifest itself as a twist. In Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” a plantation owner in the Civil War escapes the gallows and embarks on a treacherous journey home. But just before he reaches his wife’s waiting arms, he feels a sharp blow on the back of his neck. It is revealed that he never actually left the gallows — his escape was merely a final fantasy. For these character-driven endings to work, the readers need to be invested in your characters. With the precious few words that you have to tell your story, you need to paint enough of a picture to make readers care what actually happens to them at the end.

More often than not, if your ending falls flat, the problem usually lies in the preceding scenes and not the ending. Have you adequately set up the stakes of the story? Have you given readers enough of a clue about your twist ending? Does the reader care enough about the character for the ending to have a strong emotional impact? Once you can answer yes to all these questions, you’re ready to start editing.

If you’re wondering how to make your story go from good to great, the secret’s in the editing process. And the first stage of editing a short story involves whittling it down until it’s fighting fit. As Edgar Allan Poe once said, “a short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build toward it,”. With this in mind, ensure that each line and paragraph not only progress the story, but also contributes to the mood, key emotion or viewpoint you are trying to express. Poe himself does this to marvelous effect in “The Tell-Tale Heart”:

Slowly, little by little, I lifted the cloth, until a small, small light escaped from under it to fall upon — to fall upon that vulture eye! It was open — wide, wide open, and my anger increased as it looked straight at me. I could not see the old man’s face. Only that eye, that hard blue eye, and the blood in my body became like ice.

Edit ruthlessly

The rewrites will often take longer than the original draft because now you are trying to perfect and refine the central idea of your story. If you have a panic-stricken look across your face reading this, don’t worry, you will probably be more aware of the shape you want your story to take once you’ve written it, which will make the refining process a little easier.

A well-executed edit starts with a diligent re-read — something you’ll want to do multiple times to ensure no errors slip through the net. Pay attention to word flow, the intensity of your key emotion, and the pacing of your plot, and what the readers are gradually learning about your characters. Make a note of any inconsistencies you find, even if you don’t think they matter — something extremely minor can throw the whole narrative out of whack. The problem-solving skills required to identify and fix plot holes will also help you eventually skim the fat off your short story.

What to do if it’s too long

Maybe you’re entering a writing contest with a strict word limit, or perhaps you realize your story is dragging. A simple way to trim your story is to see if each sentence passes the ‘so what?’ test — i.e., would your reader miss it if it was deleted?

See also if there are any convoluted phrases that can be swapped out for snappier words. Do you need to describe a ‘400ft canvas-covered, steel-skeleton hydrogen dirigible’ when ‘massive airship’ might suffice?

Get a second opinion

Send your story to another writer. Sure, you may feel self-conscious but all writers have been embarrassed to share their work at some point in their lives— plus, it could save you from making major mistakes. There’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to point out something you missed. More than one pair of eyes is even better! 

Consider professional editing

If you decide to go with a professional editor, it’s your lucky day! Freelance literary editors will work on short stories for a lot less than they would for novels (from as little as $100 for a story under 5,000 words) — and it’s the perfect opportunity to get some experience working with a professional who knows exactly what a great short story should look like.

Now that you know how to a short story people will want to read, why not get it out into the world? In the next post in this series, discover your best options for getting your short story published.

4 responses

Douglas Smith | Writer says:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

I'm a big fan of Reedsy, but the above para on submitting is woefully inadequate, incomplete, and wrong. Contests? Sorry, but I rarely recommend entering contests and certainly no contest (or market) that charges an entry fee. I'll give a biased recommendation for my book PLAYING THE SHORT GAME: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction. I'm a multi-award-winning writer of short fiction published in 26 languages. The book gives a clear strategy on how to go about getting your first sale, then managing that sale, and learning to develop a career in short fiction by leveraging your stories via reprints and other means. Available at all the major retailers: And Reedsy, if you're interested, I offer workshops on each stage of short fiction careers. Would love to partner.

↪️ Vanessa Saxton replied:

17/09/2019 – 03:00

I respectfully disagree here. Any contest that does not charge an entry fee screams amateur. Any writer worth their salt knows this. I am also an award-winning writer, published author, and award-winning writing teacher,

Zack Urlocker says:

14/01/2020 – 05:51

I've written only novel-length stories, and I found this advice very helpful. Of course, it's still not easy to craft a short story, but this has given me some constraints to make it easier.

René Rehn says:

15/04/2020 – 03:04

What a great article! I truly think that mastering the short story is a prerequisite to writing a novel. I've been writing more than a hundred short stories in the past two years and I've learned a lot during that time. Still, there's some information here that made me think quite a bit. The focus on a central emotion is a great point. It's something I've not been thinking about. Sure, my stories end in a sad or terrible way, but I think my stories are generally broader and only lead up to the aforementioned events and emotions. So that's a great point and something I might want to think about on the next one I'll write. Thank you for the great article!

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Imagery: How to Create Strong Visuals In Writing

Posted on Mar 4, 2023

by Hannah Lee Kidder

Imagery brings your story to life. It paints a picture for your reader to connect with your characters and world, and it just makes your writing more interesting to read.

What is imagery?

Using imagery in your writing means writing tangibly with the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. We often see sight and sound in writing, but if you can incorporate the less typical senses, combine them together, and use them creatively, you’ll sculpt a much richer picture for your readers.

When you use imagery of something familiar to someone, it can even elicit certain emotions intentionally. This is a powerful writing tool.

For example, if someone had a younger sibling and you describe the smell of baby powder, that’s a very strong olfactory memory and they’ll likely have memories of their childhood.

So if there’s a new baby in the house, what do older children typically feel? Usually either happiness or jealousy. So depending on how you frame it and the tone, you can purposely make certain readers feel something you want them to feel.

If you can learn to use imagery realistically, relatably, and with strong language, you can pull your readers into your narrative almost immediately.

Let’s look at the five senses and examples of how to use them to craft effective imagery.

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Writing imagery with the 5 senses

Mastering the use of all five senses in prose takes a lot of practice. Let’s look at each sense individually with examples from one of my favorite books, I Am The Messenger .

Markus Zusak is known for using crisp and original imagery to illustrate both the mundane happenings of daily life, as well as extremely weird circumstances.

#1 – Visual

Visual imagery appeals to the reader’s sense of sight. Descriptions of things like colors, shapes, textures, and movement can all work with visual imagery.

Examples of visual imagery:

“She looks at me, and she has sunshine-colored hair in a ponytail and clear eyes, like water. The mildest blue I have ever seen.”

These examples also use subtext. In the first one, we have a description of how the woman is sitting–her physical position–but we get so much more than that.

You can see her pain, but instead of just saying “she’s hurting,” Zusak makes the connection through how she’s holding herself.

#2 – Olfactory

Olfactory imagery appeals to the reader’s sense of smell. Descriptions of things like flowers, chemicals, mold, and burning food can all work with olfactory imagery.

Example of olfactory imagery:

Throughout the whole book, the main character talks about how much his dog stinks, how lazy he is, how he’s always in the way, etc., but there’s nothing he loves more than his dog.

The more he describes how gross the dog is, the more the reader can see that he clearly loves him.

#3 – Gustatory

Gustatory imagery appeals to the reader’s sense of taste. Gustatory and olfactory imagery can work together or cross over each other.

Sometimes you can taste smells, and that image might be richer than if you described it with an olfactory image.

Examples of gustatory imagery:

This quote is taken from a scene where the main character spends time with a very old woman. The subtext here is obvious.

#4 – Auditory

Auditory imagery appeals to the reader’s sense of sound. Leaves crunching under your feet, birds singing, and a stream trickling can work together to describe an early Autumn day much more effectively than visual imagery on its own.

Examples of auditory imagery:

A lot of new writers try to write with all senses and go hog wild, describing anything they can think to describe. You can see in all the examples so far that Zusak describes things that reflect how his character is feeling.

“The breeze outside steps closer” does a lot to convey the character’s apprehension–the character is alone, so he personified the breeze to make the character feel watched and nervous.

#5 – Tactile

Tactile imagery appeals to the reader’s sense of touch.

Itchy fabric, a biting cold wind, and a smooth marble describe touch, but what about thirst or the heavy feeling in your stomach when you know you’ve done something wrong?

Examples of tactile imagery: 

Here are a couple extra examples that I thought did a good job of combining sense imagery.

I love the first example–he uses tactile imagery (swollen and slippery) to describe an auditory image. It’s also a good example of using labels effectively–had he said “He was scared,” that would have been weak writing. But describing the silence as “scared” is original and a great way to divert expectations of the label.

Showing vs Telling to increase imagery in writing

The easiest way to practice writing with imagery is to show instead of tell . This is probably something you’ve heard before, and with good reason: it’s one of the strongest writing skills you can develop.

Once you really understand what “showing” means, your prose will improve.

Telling is when you explain to the reader how to understand or feel something, instead of letting them experience it.

Showing is using description to convey the same things but in a subtler and more impactful way. 

For these examples, I’m going to use excerpts from my short collection, Little Birds .

Let’s look at a “telling” version of an idea, then a “showing” version.

In my story Wolverine Frogs , the character is recovering from an attack.

A “telly” way to write the last lines could have been–

“I’m ashamed that I couldn’t stop what happened. I blame myself and hate that he moved on with his life and I can’t.”

The real ending I used is–

“The skin around my nails is still raw. I keep scrubbing them, even though his blood is long gone and replaced by my own many times over.”

The second example conveys what the first one does, but it does so with concrete imagery instead of labeled emotions and abstractions.

That example is showing instead of telling what a character is feeling , but you can show when you’re describing a scene as well.

My story called Winnow has a character observing her bedroom.

I could have said–

“I still live in my childhood room. It’s dirty and old and I wish I could move out.”

But what I wrote is–

“The yellow-tinged spot in the corner of my ceiling is growing with heavy summer rains this year, stretching toward my ceiling fan. The fan is out of balance and squeaks and wheezes with every slow rotation, blurring glow-in-the-dark stars that haven’t glowed in years.”

The description I used still shows that she lives in her childhood room, it’s dingy, she isn’t happy to be there–but it uses concrete imagery to do so.

Realistic and relatable imagery

You can write with the five senses all day long, but if your audience can’t connect to your writing with familiar imagery, it’s worthless.

Relatability is what allows your reader to connect to an emotion through the image.

You can take something that your reader has most likely never experienced and make it relatable through imagery.

For example, say your main character is a hired assassin, and they’re about to make their first kill–they’re nervous! If you describe someone being nervous to assassinate another person, it (hopefully) is not something your reader will find particularly relatable.

If you describe the way they feel and how they’re acting–fumbling hands, fast heartbeat, loud swallow, clenching teeth–that sure sounds like stage fright, doesn’t it? Most people have felt that way.

Even though your reader has never experienced murder, they’ve almost definitely felt nervous! This is what imagery does–it connects your reader to your story, even without them specifically relating to it.

Imagery is great, but language still matters

Using specific details grounded in relatable senses is great–but it still gotta sound nice. Here are some of the previous examples rewritten, with the same details, but… well, worse.


 “The girl tries to crawl inside my jacket as the noise from the bedroom reaches us from inside. She hugs me so tight I wonder how her bones survive.”

A little worse–

“The girl claws at my jacket and gets close to hide from the sounds. She hugs me very tight.”

“She looks at me. Her blonde hair is in a ponytail and her eyes are blue.”

“The ceiling is turning yellow where the rain leaks through. My ceiling fan squeaks loudly as it spins and blurs old glow-in-the-dark star stickers.”

Even with the same imagery, these examples became less effective when we removed the writer’s voice and original language. While you learn to write with solid imagery, pay attention to how you write it.

To strengthen your writing, show your story with relatable imagery , strong language , and all five senses !

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Hannah Lee Kidder

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Guiding Students through the Process

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Teach Storytelling

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Christopher Taylor, PhD

To teach creative writing, start by introducing your students to the core elements of storytelling, like theme, setting, and plot, while reminding them that there’s no formula for combining these elements to create a story. Additionally, explain how important it is to use tone and atmosphere, along with active verbs, to write compelling stories that come alive. When your students have chosen their topics, have them create story outlines before they begin writing. Then, read their rough drafts and provide feedback to keep them on the right path to storytelling success. For tips from our English reviewer on how to spur creativity in your students, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Visual Imagery

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More comprehension strategies

Why use visual imagery?

How to use visual imagery

Follow these few simple steps to provide practice developing students' mental images:

Into the Book: lesson plans that help students learn to visualize:

Article from Reading Rockets:

Watch: Visualize It!: Improving Comprehension through Visualizing Comparisons

As a comprehension strategy, visualizing helps students understand the true size of new objects by comparing them to familiar objects. See the lesson plan .

This video is published with permission from the Balanced Literacy Diet . See many more related how-to videos with lesson plans in the Reading Comprehension Strategies section.

Collect resources

Teaching Shapes Using Read-Alouds, Visualization, and Sketch to Stretch from ReadWriteThink encourages strategic reading and real-world math connections. See example >

Draw a Math Story from ReadWriteThink helps students move from the concrete to the symbolic. See example >

From the Art Junction website: Suppose you had a hat that would help you think like an artist . What would it look like? How would it work? Try to imagine such a hat in your mind's eye. Once you have a mental picture of your "artrageous" hat, make it using a paper plate as a base and colored construction paper to create it's form. It may help to draw a picture of your hat before you start. See example >

The San Francisco Symphony Kids' Site offers an online radio that provides musical examples of drama, excitement, tragedy and triumph. The musical selections offer a great opportunity to pair visualization and writing. Simply select a station button, have kids listen and visualize, and then draw or write what they "see" in the music. See example >

Differentiated instruction

For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners.

See the research that supports this strategy

Gambrell, L., & Koskinen, P.S. (2002). Imagery: A strategy for enhancing comprehension. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 305-318). New York: Guilford Press.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Mental Imagery in Reading: A Sampler of Some Significant Studies

Children's books to use with this strategy

All the World 

All the World 

Alliterative, onomatopoeic language (and gentle illustrations) reveal a child's day shared with family from sun-up to moon-rise.

Least Things: Poems about Small Natures 

Least Things: Poems about Small Natures 

Short poems (haiku) were written in response to but also evoke creatures shown in crisp close-up photographs of small animals and insects in their natural surroundings. This collection and others by Yolen/Stemple introduce information about nature, and could be used as part of the science curriculum.

Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales 

Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales 

Eight well known folktales (e.g., 'Little Red Riding Hood,' 'Musicians of Breman') are retold and simply illustrated. (This might be paired with other versions of the same tales and start a study of comparative literature for younger children; e.g., what does the language in this rendition call to mind? How does it compare to X,Y, orZ?)

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors

Each season of the year has its own special color and feeling. Summer, fall, winter, and spring are presented in rich, lyrical language accompanied by stylized illustrations that evoke something special about each.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Minli embarks on a journey to change the luck of her family and their village. Traditional stories inspired by Chinese folklore combine with a rousing adventure for an altogether satisfying tale. Richly-hued illustrations decorate and enhance the handsome novel.

picture story writing techniques

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Meet the Hatchers through the voice of Peter, the oldest of son, tormented (as all siblings are) by his younger and perennially "cute" brother, Farley (better known as Fudge). Their life in an apartment in New York City sparkles with humor and plausible family scenes in this first of the stories of Peter, his family, and ultimately his neighbors.

Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables

Almost 100 fables attributed to Aesop have been selected and illustrated in this oversized collection. Familiar and less familiar tales are included, and most are distinguished by illustrations that give these old fables a fresh face. This large collection is an introduction to these classic stories.

The Bunnicula Collection: Books 1 to 3

The Bunnicula Collection: Books 1 to 3

Harold the family dog narrates three stories of life with supernatural suspicions which begins with Bunnicula , the bunny with fangs. In the Howliday Inn while boarding at the Chateau Bow-Wow, Harold and Chester (the Monroe cat) encounter a werewolf, perhaps. Chester and Harold must stop zombie vegetables when the Celery Stalks at Midnight . Over-the-top humor is very appealing to a broad range of listeners (including adults!).

I love how these reading tips are so clear for the teaching adult. To suggest books that will help teach the strategy is a real bonus. Makes me want to teach kids how to read again.

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  1. What Makes a Good Story? 10 Elements

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  2. Story Writing Techniques and Solved Examples

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  3. Argumentative Essay Topics About Language Acquisition

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  5. Story Writing Techniques.

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  1. How to write story and easy #shortvideo

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  1. How To Use Image Prompts: Writing A Story From A Picture

    Images have the ability to evoke feelings and emotions, which is why they make great prompts for writing stories. They can be used for fiction or non-fiction writing, and they can be used in any genre. In this blog post, we will discuss how to use image prompts for writing a story from a picture.

  2. How to Write a Children's Picture Book in 8 Steps

    First person, the narrator is the person the story is happening to and will use words like "me" or "I." For example, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Second person, the narrator is placing the reader within the story and will use words like "you" or "your." For example, In New York by Marc Brown.

  3. 10 Things Every Children's Picture Book Writer Should Know

    6. You'll Need to Master the Art of Not 'Over-writing.'. Say good-bye to most of those adverbs or adjectives you may be attached to: you must omit needless words. Writing a children's picture book involves writing visually —leaving lots of room for the illustrator to tell the story through their pictures.

  4. Use These 18 Images to Inspire Your Own Short Story

    To create your outline, use our story map worksheet or any other pre-writing strategy you prefer. 5. Write, revise and share. After creating an outline, you are ready to write. You can choose...

  5. 144 Picture Prompts to Inspire Student Writing

    Write a short story, poem or memoir inspired by this illustration. Related Picture Prompt Glenn Harvey. Trapped Inside. Wilderness Wayfaring. Magical Chores. I'm Sorry. Dollar Bills. Dinosaurs ...

  6. 10 Powerful Visual Storytelling Techniques for Writers

    10 Powerful Visual Storytelling Techniques for Writers 1 | Think Like A Screenwriter Pick up just about any novel from today's bestseller charts and you'll find that most writers seem to be using their novels as calling cards for Hollywood, or prose auditions for a new Netflix series. In fact, some novels even bring in scriptwriting techniques.

  7. 85+ Picture Writing Prompts For Kids (+ Free Printable)

    Over 100 picture writing prompts for kids, plus a free printable PDF. Picture prompts are a brilliant way to spark your imagination. ... Reading Techniques (6) Short Stories (2) Story Writing Guides (13) Story Writing Tips (14) Valentine's Day (3) Writing Activities (17) Writing Challenges (15)

  8. The Picture Book Plot Structure Step-by-Step Breakdown

    Take the first step to writing your children's book story. Download the free children's book template here to help you get started. The most popular type of children's book that people choose to write is the picture book. But these short stories can be hard to write if you don't know what the plot structure looks like.

  9. Picture Books to Teach Literary Techniques

    Picture Books to Teach Literary Techniques Allegory While it's first on my list alphabetically, allegory is actually the most difficult technique (of those I've included) because it's typically used throughout an entire story, rather than here and there like other techniques.

  10. How to Write Children's Short Stories: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

    Writing Your Story. 1. Dive right into the conflict. Make those first several sentences count. Begin with action, dialogue, or a description that sets the mood of the story. Start as close as possible to the story's catalyst, or the aha moment for the main character.

  11. 70 Picture Prompts for Creative Writing (with Free Slides)

    Use story picture prompts to help kids work on specific writing skills. For example, you could work on descriptive writing by having them describe the setting of the picture in detail. Or you could work on character development by having them make up a history for a person in a picture.

  12. How to Write a Professional Story: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

    Give each setting and character an entrance and exit (unless your main character (s) are at the very beginning and end of the story. [3] 7. Be consistent. Don't start your story as a scary tale and then make it into a comedy. 8. Write so that when you read it over, you can see a picture in your brain of what is happening.


    A list of techniques when analysing a visual text. Allegory A story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning. A common technique of allegory is personification; thereby abstract qualities are given human shape. An allegory may be conceived as an extended metaphor. Angle

  14. ISSB Picture Story Writing Guidelines

    Make an idea or a story out of that picture in the 30 seconds provided to you. You have to think of a story quickly. Your story must be relate able to the picture shown. Irrelevant details if written will waste your own time. Write approximately 12 lines. Try to end your story by writing the complete concept you want to deliver.

  15. How to Write a Good Story (with Pictures)

    Create a plot diagram consisting of an exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Make a traditional outline with the main points being individual scenes. Summarize each plot and turn it into a bullet list. 5. Choose a first person or third person point-of-view (POV).

  16. An ESL Lesson: Writing a Story Using Picture Prompts and Correction

    Progression: … 1 Looking and discussing. Place students in groups of three and hand out the pictures. Tell them that they are going to make a list of all the words they see when they look at the six pictures. They may use bi-lingual dictionaries to find the words they know in their own languages, but not in English.

  17. 7 Ways to Structure Your Picture Book

    In each story you will have to use different techniques to reach the destination. This is the challenge of writing. It is also what keeps writing stimulating. When you're working on a story and you suspect that it's not moving forward, or maybe it even comes to a dead stop, trust your intuition.

  18. How to Write a Short Story in 6 Simple Steps

    To help you with the process, here's how to write a short story step-by-step: 1. Identify a short story idea. 2. Define the character's main conflict and goal. 3. Hook readers with a strong beginning. 4. Draft a middle focused on the story's message.

  19. Picture Story Writing

    Picture (Picture story writing) will be shown for 30 seconds on projector (multimedia), are given to candidates for check out, find out the objects and objects activities. Then after 30 seconds, 3.5 minutes are given to candidates write a suitable, readable and meaning able story on given picture.

  20. Imagery: How to Create Strong Visuals In Writing

    Using imagery in your writing means writing tangibly with the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. We often see sight and sound in writing, but if you can incorporate the less typical senses, combine them together, and use them creatively, you'll sculpt a much richer picture for your readers.

  21. How to Teach Creative Writing (with Pictures)

    3. Avoid teaching a story "formula.". One of the most important things to remember when teaching creative writing is to dispense with the idea that stories should follow certain arcs or formulas. While formulaic writing can aid students who need direction, it can also bind students and limit their imaginations.

  22. Visual Imagery

    Generating an image while reading requires that the reader be actively engaged with the text. Creating mental images while reading can improve comprehension. How to use visual imagery Follow these few simple steps to provide practice developing students' mental images: Begin reading.

  23. How to Create a Photo Essay: Step-by-Step Guide With Examples

    Photo essays tell a story in pictures, and there are many different ways to style your own photo essay. With a wide range of topics to explore, a photo essay can be thought-provoking, emotional, funny, unsettling, or all of the above, but mostly, they should be unforgettable.