Posted by: nancyisanders | April 2, 2020

NF PB Bio Step 6B More on Story Arc

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I thought I’d give you another sneak peek into what I’m actually factually doing on my own journey to write a picture book biography. And the peek this time is to understand more clearly how I filled out my BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET A that I encouraged you to download in my previous post.

First of all, there are lots of formats you can pick to use to write the plot of your picture book biography:

You can write a birth to death plot.
You can write a plot that focuses on a significant event.
You can write a comparison between two people.
The list goes on.

For my picture book biography, I played around with different formats. I plugged different plot points on my BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET and actually went through a couple of different versions.

But the one I chose to use at last was one that focused mostly on the career of the woman I’m writing about because it was her career that was significant. And even more specifically, I focused on one small part of her career so that I could better tell a story instead of just a list of accomplishments.

So here’s how my BASIC PLOT WORKSHEET turned out:

For the BEGINNING, to answer “How does the story start?”:
I show my Main Character, as a child, encountering a problem. (This is the same problem she will later deal with in her career as an adult.)(This literally took less than 100 words.)

CHANGE !: This is where my Main Character, still a child, deals with this problem. This shows how she works to solve it as a child.

First Half of the Middle:
Then I give some brief background information about my Main Character and where she grew up and how it gave her a passion to deal with that problem.

Change 2: The Turning Point of the story. The Middle.
What happens in the middle?
The turning point of my story is where my Main Character, because of her passion, applies and is hired for a special job to deal with the same problem she dealt with as a child. This makes her the first woman to ever do this. The reason this is the turning point is because it was the build up of everything she was as a child and now the story turns because this will be what she spends the rest of her life doing.

Second Half of the Middle
This is where I show what my Main Character’s duties were in her new job as she’s working to deal with the problem.

The big change that happened was one key significant event that shaped the rest of her career.

The End: How does the story end?
I again tried to bring out her passion for the problem she deals with. I tried to tie the ending back into the beginning and show her dealing with the same problem, but successfully now as an adult instead of as a child. I ended the story with how she successfully accomplished one milestone in her career.

Author’s Note
Then in the Author’s Note, I tell everything else there is to know about her. In the author’s note I tell all about her whole career. All the rest of her background about her parents and where she grew up. And all the rest of the information about her, how she got famous, etc.

In other words, for the actual picture book story, I picked one problem that she dealt with as a child and then as an adult, with key plot points to move the story forward. I focused just on that story, and not on her life as a whole. I saved her life as a whole for the author’s note.

Please feel free to use this same story arc with the same plot changes as I have, if it makes it easier for you to focus on and learn how to craft a strong story arc.

Have fun and let me know if you have any questions!


  1. Thanks for answering my question.

  2. Thank you for this helpful information and worksheet!

    • You’re welcome! Glad you find it useful.

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