Posted by: nancyisanders | March 16, 2020

NF PB BIO Step 2

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Nonfiction Picture Book Biography STEP 2

STEP 1 for writing a nonfiction picture book biography BREAKTHROUGH topic was to decide to write a brand new manuscript about a lesser known famous woman who did a great big thing.

STEP 2 is to brainstorm ideas for which woman would best fit a BREAKTHROUGH topic in today’s current children’s book market.

I just want to reinforce something here. This is exactly the trail my brain is taking right now as I’m preparing to write my newest BREAKTHROUGH picture book. I want to give you an exact look at what I’m actually doing to try to land my next contract. Why? Because I want you to experience success too.

So after I decided to write a new biography about a lesser-known famous women who did a great big thing, I printed out one of my handy dandy brainstorming worksheets to help me brainstorm.

I have a free brainstorming sheet that you can download and print out to use, too. CLICK HERE to visit my site WRITING ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY AND FRIENDS where I post writer’s worksheets and other tips. Scroll down to find the link for the IDEAS BUBBLES BRAINSTORMING. Then download that file and print it out. (It looks like the image at the top of this post.)

Here’s how I brainstormed using this worksheet.

First I thought about main topics that interest me or that I already have experience/background in so I can talk with a ‘REAL’ voice.

Then I wrote each of these main topics inside a big bubble, one topic in each bubble.

For example, say you like scuba diving. You would write SCUBA DIVING inside one of the big bubbles. Or say you also like SNOW BOARDING. You would write SNOW BOARDING in a second big bubble. Or say you are a librarian or a teacher. You would write LIBRARIAN or TEACHER each in its own big bubble.

After I wrote down several main topics in my big bubbles on my brainstorming worksheet, I next went to my computer. I googled famous women for each topic. For example, you would google FAMOUS WOMEN SCUBA DIVERS. Then you’d look over the list that pops up. You’d write any potential women’s names in the small bubbles around the big bubble that says SCUBA DIVERS.

Do this for each topic you have written on your bubble worksheet. That’s what I did.

In my next post I’ll share with you what I did next.


  1. Thanks, again, Nancy!

  2. I always find these blog series both enjoyable and profitable. Thanks for sharing your process.. I have had multiple pb bios in development for the last few years and MANY more in the pipeline, but I still struggle with time management. If possible, could you include how much time you spend on each step and how many hours within that time frame,,, or even what you think is realistic for the average writer as opposed to seasoned biographers like yourself. Thank-you.

    • Joanne, thanks for being so honest! Yes, time management is a challenge. For a frame of reference I’m expecting this project to take me a good three months from beginning to end. I’m spending one or two hours most days on this and carrying my manuscript notes, research notes etc everywhere I go so no fleeting idea is lost. Does that help?

      • Yes. Thanks. It gives me a frame of reference. I ‘d like to start research for a new PB bio in the next month and I’ll see if your posts and advice can keep me from falling down a research rabbit hole. Thanks for everything. Col. 3:16,17

      • You’re welcome. And thanks for the scripture!

  3. Thank you for sharing tools to help us navigate through our ideas 🙂

    • You’re welcome! Hopefully you’ll find an idea to pursue!

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