Posted by: nancyisanders | April 6, 2020

NF PB Bio Step 8 The First Draft

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Nonfiction Picture Book Biography Step 8 The First Draft
For those of you who are following along, I just wanted to give you a reminder that I’m sharing in this series of blog posts the journey my brain is taking to write a picture book biography for a BREAKTHROUGH topic.

In other words, I’m giving you a sneak peek into my world as a writer and what I actually do as a writer during this writing process…especially what I’m thinking and how I’m working with the process of writing a picture book biography.

After I plotted out my story arc on the handout I like to use, I then began in earnest to write the first draft of my manuscript. I did this in a process of 4 sittings.

When I write a magazine article feature fiction story like I do every year for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. magazines, I often write those manuscripts in one sitting. It’s 700 words long and has a similar story arc to a picture book biography.

So why do I write a similar length story for a picture book in 4 sittings you may ask?

It makes a difference in the strength of a story arc. You see, a magazine’s story arc, even tho it’s still has all 3 acts and 4 main plot points, isn’t meant to be a page turner. There are only 1 or 2 illustrations and the story flows more in a straight line.

A picture book, however, requires page turns and different illustrations all through the plot. I’ve found that in the end my plot is stronger and automatically includes more page turning action if I separate my writing into 4 session.

So in my first session, I wrote the beginning…up to CHANGE 1.

In my second writing session, I wrote the first half of the middle, leading up to CHANGE 2, the turning point of my character’s life.

In my third writing session, I wrote the second half of the middle, leading up to CHANGE 3.

And in my final and fourth writing session to complete my first draft from beginning to end, I wrote the ending of my story.

So there I was. After 4 main sitting sessions, I was holding the first draft of my picture book biography in my hands.

And it was awful.

But hey! I actually factually have a first draft in my hands. And first drafts are supposed to be awful. But now I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work on it.

So here in this post I want to remind you that first drafts are supposed to stink! I even have a poster you can print out to remind you about this. CLICK HERE to visit the page where it’s available and then scroll down to the Printable Posters and Signs. Print out the FIRST DRAFT and hang it next to your writing desk.

Then get your first draft down on paper from beginning to end.


  1. Give myself permission to write something that stinks, huh?

  2. Thank you for sharing your process for writing that first draft. They stink, but you can really see the holes!

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