Posted by: nancyisanders | March 31, 2020

NF PB BIO Step 6 Story Arc

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Nonfiction Picture Book Biography Step 6: Story Arc

As I started moving forward at this point, a lot of the activities I was doing with my manuscript began to overlap.

I started reading a lot of my research.

My brain couldn’t help it. It started to come up with opening lines. Ending lines. Little tidbits of scenes and snippets of dialog.

Story arc ideas started floating through my brain.

Ideas for stronger curriculum tie-in and universal theme that could tug at every reader’s heart.

But in this midst of all this overlap, I want to isolate out specific details so you can join in on the process my brain was taking and hopefully help your own brain move forward in a positive way with your manuscript.

One of the things I started working on is my story arc. The plot. A picture book is so short and such a page-turner that I always like to determine and plan my plot before I start.

So I printed out a copy of my handy-dandy plot chart that I ALWAYS use when I write a picture book. You can use it too. CLICK HERE to go to my website WRITING ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY AND FRIENDS. Scroll down to the link for the BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET A. (It looks like the image at the top of this post.) Download the worksheet and print it out. I actually have about 20 copies printed out that I keep handy because sometimes the sheet I’m filling in gets messy and I want to re-do it.

Also, you may want to click on the link next to the worksheet with tips on how to fill this out.

I didn’t do this in one sitting. I filled this out as I read up on my research. And then I changed it several times.

The key is that I really didn’t start writing my manuscript until I had plugged in my story arc on this chart and also started to read my mentor texts to help me with this genre. (Even if you’re not yet able to get in any mentor texts because your libraries are closed, try to look them up on Amazon to peek at as much as you can in their ‘LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK’ features. It will help you get started.)

Oh, and sometimes I like to fill in outlines, too, to help me create my story arc chart. If you want to create an outline for your manuscript, you’ll find worksheets on that same site to help you.


  1. Thanks. I’m working on a biochemist who died in 2007. Will that work?

    • Hopefully that should work just fine!

  2. Thank you for the amazing resources and tips, Nancy 🙂

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