Writing Captivating Picture Books

w/ Martine Murray and guest Sally Rippin

The perfect three-month course for people who wish to write picture books.

Children are discerning readers, and the children’s publishing industry is highly competitive. To write a children’s picture book that will stand out on a publisher’s desk, and then on bookstore shelves, you need to be aware of what is already out there, while creating something that reflects your personality.

23 February -1 June 2022
Wednesdays, 6.30 – 8.30 pm

$ 2,500/$ 2125 alumni.

This is a past course.

This course will cover the elements required to create a stand-out manuscript. You will discover how to craft a compelling story, memorable characters, authentic dialogue and an evocative setting. You will learn about your audience and the themes and language suited to different age groups. The course will also discuss what publishers are looking for and how to convince them that you are worth publishing.

Writing for children requires skill and imagination; getting published takes commitment and perseverance. You will be required to work hard and read continually. There will be regular workshops and you will be given feedback in a supportive and creative environment. Over the twelve sessions, we will study a range of children’s authors and hear from guest speakers in the children’s publishing industry.

Writing Captivating Picture Books is suitable for writers of all levels of experience. Participants are encouraged to bring along ideas for stories, works-in-progress and/or favourite children’s books. This course will primarily focus on picture books, but will also explore elements of storytelling which can be used in writing junior and middle-grade fiction.

At the end of the course participants will have a thorough understanding of the children’s publishing industry as well as a fully or partially completed draft of their work-in-progress. Most importantly, they will have gained the support of a group of fellow writers and an opportunity to create ongoing workshop sessions outside the course.


Writers you'll be working with:

Martine Murray

Martine Murray writes for children and young adults. Her first novel The Slightly True Story of Cedar B Hartley was included in the White Ravens international list of outstanding children’s books, and was shortlisted for the Victorian, NSW and Queensland Premier’s Awards, and the CBCA Awards. She won the Queensland Premier’s Award for How to Make a Bird and again…

Sally Rippin

Sally Rippin has been writing and illustrating children’s books for over fifteen years. She has over forty books published, many of them award-winning, including two novels for young adults. She has taught writing for children courses at the Council of Adult Education, the Victorian Writers’ Centre and as a part of the Professional Writing and Editing…

Course outline

The course consists of:

12 x evening sessions, 6.30 – 8.30pm Wednesday nights AEDT

The content listed below is comprehensive but is still a guide only. The exact course content could be adjusted according to the experience and concerns of the group and availability of guest writers.

Session 1: Wednesday 23 February
Developing a writing practice and looking at the elements of story.
Discussion of drafting and workshop process.

Session 2: Wednesday 2 March
How to find it. What’s ‘appropriate’? Who might your audience be? Authenticity and originality.
Workshopping initial ideas.

Session 3: Wednesday 9 March
The ‘What If?’:
Pushing, twisting, enlarging an idea.
How do we take one idea and find a way to unfold it into story.

Session 4: Wednesday 16 March
Picture Books:
Looking at the idea of writing visually, the consolation of structure, the use of rhyme, rhythm and repetition, uses of the everyday, the monster, animals, friendship…

Session 5: Wednesday 23 March
Guest Speaker – Sally Rippin

Session 6: Wednesday 30 March
Looking at the emergence of character as the basis of story.
Moving from picture books (Eloise, Shirley Hughes’ Alfie stories) to chapter books (Ivy & Bean, Pippi Longstocking) to novels (Matilda, Penny Pollard, Anne of Green Gables).

Note: Three-week break

Session 7: Wednesday 27 April
Finding and developing your unique voice. Looking at how voice manifests in a picture book and a novel.

Session 8: Wednesday 4 May
Examining the importance of setting particularly in children’s novels.

Session 9: Wednesday 11 May
Whole Class Workshop Sessions

Session 10: Wednesday 18 May
The importance of the telling detail. Looking at style and grammar.
How to look at your work with an editor’s eye. How to edit, redraft and polish your prose.

Session 11: Wednesday 25 May
Writing as a Business:
Submitting your manuscript, choosing a publisher or agent, covering letters, contracts.

Session 12: Wednesday 1 June
Making a Living as a Writer:
Book tours, school talks and festivals.

Please note in the event of unforeseen circumstances, courses – including tutors and venues – may be subject to cancellation or change.

Praise for this course

“Writing for Children produced better results than I expected. It engaged that part of me that has struggled for years with coming up with new ideas, and I produced dozens of new picture book concepts during the three months, with no signs of slowing.” 2021

“Martine was an inspiring teacher with so much writing wisdom. The course provided a fantastic opportunity to receive Martine’s insightful feedback on written work and also
benefit from the feedback she provided to others.” 2021

“Martine Murray was fantastic. She gave invaluable insight and a refreshingly real focus on craft over saleability. She was able to maintain a clear direction and articulate her pearls of wisdom with consistent clarity.” 2021

“I found that the course allowed me to discover the power of place, detail and improved my ability to write text that is immediate. It was a revelation that emotion is conveyed in the
absence of words that convey sentiment or the experience of an emotion.” 2020

“The exercises pushed me to try new things, such as picture books. I am now polishing picture book manuscripts for submission, where I only worked on novels before.” 2019


How to Book

This is a past course.