Posted by: nancyisanders | February 20, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book: Writer’s Mini-Retreat


Yesterday we had our first writer’s mini-retreat at my house for my sweet writing friends to join me as we worked on our nonfiction picture books.

We made the commitment to meet every week or so over the new few weeks as we write…actually write! the first draft of our 800 word nonfiction picture books from beginning to end.

Because we were all at different stages of this process, the four of us sat around my dining table, spread out all sorts of piles of research books (both adults’ and children’s), piles of file folders and notes, laptops, and even the occasional cat who hopped up on the table to join us.

First we each took a few moments to share which stage of the journey we were on. It was fun to hear about each one’s progress…mostly so far in researching and brainstorming! We decided to spend time working on our plot worksheets first to make sure we all had the strong structure it takes to compete in today’s market.

Once we all had our plots charted on these worksheets, we worked on our outlines. First we plugged in all the info from our plot worksheet onto our outline.

This left all the asterisks to fill in with 3 main points we wanted to cover in each of the four sections of our plot structure (beginning, first half of the middle, second half of the middle, and end).

Whew! It took a lot of work and brain power to finalize these charts, but we all felt very empowered afterwards because for each of us, our story gelled and took shape in our minds as never before.

And the last thing we did at our 3-hour writing retreat was we actually took time to write. Each of us wrote the first draft of a very short opening page, the first page of our picture book manuscript.

So how about it? Are you making good progress on the journey to write a nonfiction picture book? If not, invite a couple of writing buddies along on your journey and get together for writing mini-retreats until your first draft is done. You can follow along with me as I share in real time what we really do at my house in these retreats to really write the first draft from beginning to end.

Next Wednesday, we’re going to get together again for 3 hours and we’ll start writing the beginning section of the book. I’ll let you know what we do. So stay tuned!


  1. How fun! Wish I could’ve joined!

    • Oh, wish you could have joined us, too! Maybe some day we could have you join in on a group via Skype!!!!

      • That would be awesome!

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