Posted by: nancyisanders | April 25, 2010

NaPiBoWriWee: Gather Ideas

Some picture books have predictable plot patterns. Here is a list that you can choose from as you’re gathering ideas and plots for the National Picture Book Writers Week (NaPiBoWriWee).

Predictable Plot Patterns
• Chain or circular stories follow a round pattern because they begin and end in a similar way. Laura Numeroff is a master at writing circular stories, as demonstrated with her endearing picture book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and other books she has written.
• Cumulative stories follow a plot where each time a new event occurs, all previous events are repeated. Think of the folk tale, This is the House that Jack Built.
• Familiar Sequence stories develop the plot based on counting with numbers, the days of the week, or other predictable and familiar sequences.
• Pattern stories such as The Gingerbread Man have each new scene repeat the previous ones with only slight variations.
• Question and answer stories such as the picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin develop the plot by asking repetitive questions with slight variations of text accompanied by repetitive answers with slight variations of text as well.

As you’re gathering ideas for potential picture books to write when we write 7 picture books in 7 days for NaPiBoWriWee, consider writing stories based on predictable plots. They’re fun!


  1. Hi Nancy! Thanks for this inspirational post. Such great advice! It was great to see you, by the way, at Writers Day this month! I hope I’ll see you via the comments on Paula’s NaPiBoWriWee blog posts. I’m counting down the days!

    • It was great to see you at Writers Day, too, Jenni! Glad you’re joining the fun writing picture books. -Nancy

  2. Nancy, Thanks for sharing the plot patterns. I was needing a boost. This will be fun.

    • You’re welcome, Mary Ann! These predictable plot patterns really help if we’re stuck in a rut. They’re so much fun to write and practically write themselves! -Nancy

  3. Thanks for the informative post, Nancy!
    Hang in there with those deadlines!

  4. Oops! I just got my domain name and typed it out wrong on my previous comment. Duh! I’m off to a good start. I got it through go-daddy as well. Somehow I figured it out!
    Hope to see more informative tidbits like this post! I know I will (o;

    • Hurrah for you, Sherri! That’s super that you have your own domain name now. -Nancy

  5. Thanks for the link to NaPiBoWriWee, I’ve been pondering it ever since I got your email. Finally registered today. I have at least 7 titles but not all are fleshed out to a storyline but I still have some time…
    I may be late to the pre-party
    but not late to the game
    Because I know all our goals
    are one and the same
    To write 7 books
    in the same number of days
    To accomplish this task
    others might think we are crazed
    But I know we can do it
    and we shouldn’t cower
    Writing all these books
    could be our finest hour!

    • Glad to have you join the fun, Chris! And what a cute poem. -Nancy

  6. Great tips! Thanks for sharing…

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