Monday 9 May 2016

SCBWI Workshop Report - Getting Your Picture Book onto the Page With Elizabeth Dulemba

Last weekend I escaped my duties as a Mother and took a train up to Edinburgh to join the South East Scotland SCBWI Network for a Picture Book Workshop with the wonderful Elizabeth O Dulemba.

Sketching at the station
Elizabeth is an amazing writer, illustrator and teacher from the US, who we are lucky to have access to here in the UK (and the North especially!) as she has recently moved to Edinburgh to further her studies. Watch her inspiring TEDx talk about how she sold or gave away nearly everything she owned to pursue her dreams. 

The Workshop

It was a really useful and productive workshop, with a mixture of exemplar picture books, story analysis, folding paper, lots of folding paper, writing, pitching and drawing.  There was a lot of information crammed in and I was surprised to find that by the end, I’d roughly storyboarded the manuscript that I took along.  It was a pleasure and enlightening to see the collection of professionals’ storyboards that Elizabeth showed.  I now want to check out the gorgeous work of Ruth Sanderson whom I was previously unfamiliar with, click on that link, you won’t be sorry that you did.  Elizabeth brought along some of her own picture book dummies (mock ups) which were exquisite.  Sadly we ran out of time at the end to make our own dummies but Elizabeth has a pdf resource on her website to help.

Folding a zine

My Storyboard
So what I will take away from the workshop is a way to look at my texts to define the essence of them, then break them down into four key structure parts, and from there into a further eight parts and then finally seeing them as a whole of 14 spreads/32 pages to eventually taking them to dummy for reading out loud and page turning in the real world.

Sociable SCBWIs

It was a fun-packed, educational time and as SCBWI’s are a sociable lot I joined them for a post-workshop drink to talk even more about children’s book writing and illustrating and despairing at how long it takes to succeed.  It was lovely to hear about Sheila Averbuch’s journey and her signing with her agent.  Sheila highly recommended doing Writer’s Digest courses with access to editors and agents so I’m strongly considering trying an appropriate one to me, if I do, I’m sure to report back.


  1. Looks great, glad you enjoyed it!

  2. It was great to meet you Claire and thanks for coming! Yes, it bears repeating – the Writers Digest seminars often give you the opportunity to get your query letter or the first few hundred words of your manuscript critiqued by an agent – go through the webinars that are listed on the Writers Digest website and you'll probably find one that suits your needs. It's how I met my agent, Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown, but I've seen children's agents from lots of different agencies there as well. Thank you so much again for coming to see us in Edinburgh!

    1. Thanks Sheila, I'm keeping an eye on Writer's Digest.

  3. I've been making book dummies for fun the last few weeks. It's a low-pressure exercise, I'm just enjoying the act of putting together a book. It's always been my favorite part of the process and I'm jealous that you got to see and share other dummies.

    1. Ah thanks Meng, I hope you get to see others' dummies soon, they are certainly fascinating things!