Get That Idea Out of Your Head and Write Your Manuscript

Write and Revise Your Story Like a Pro


  • Write a Great Story in Manuscript Form
  • How to Edit Your Own Manuscripts
  • Leave Room for the Illustrator, While Still Creating a Great Story
  • Build a Story with Setups and Pay-offs
  • How to Make a Story Emotionally Satisfying


Jim Averbeck works, plays, and evades the law in San Francisco, California. His first book, In a Blue Room, was a Charlotte Zolotow Honor book. His popular books, Except if and Oh no, Little Dragon! feature charming protagonists with pointy teeth. His picture book, The Market Bowl,  and his middle-grade novel, A Hitch at the Fairmont, were Junior Library Guild Selections. One Word From Sophia, was an Indie Next Top 10 pick for Summer 2015. Spy agencies can find Jim online at

Jim Averbeck


Published Books


Workshop Dates & Time

Wednesdays: 8/26, 9/2, 9/16, 9/23, 10/7, 10/14

Writing Picture Book Manuscripts with Jim Averbeck
@ 6:00 - 7:00 PM PST

Course Details

In this 9-week course you'll learn a couple of different ways to generate and develop ideas into unique picture book manuscripts. Then you'll learn how to edit your own manuscript.

Module 1:
Picture Book Basics

Lesson 1: Types of Illustrated Books
Lesson 2: Construction of the Picture Book
Lesson 3: How Book Structure Affects Story
Lesson 4: To Rhyme, or Not to Rhyme
Lesson 5: Branching Exercise to Generate Ideas
Lesson 6: Proper Manuscript Format

Module 2:
Developing Ideas for Picture Books

Lesson 1: Creating a Critique Group
Lesson 2: Giving a Good Critique
Lesson 3: Receiving a Critique Well
Lesson 4: "The Assignment"
Lesson 5: Overview
Lesson 6: Variations on a Theme
Lesson 7: Question and Connections for a Theme
Lesson 8: Flipping the Expectations
Lesson 9: Research

Module 3:
Composition & Page Turns​

Lesson 1: STORY SHAPE: "The Triangle"
Lesson 2: Other Story Shapes
Lesson 3: WRITING APPROACH: Character vs. Plot
Lesson 4: Creating Interesting Characters
Lesson 5: Creating Interesting Plots
Lesson 6: Foundational Revision

Module 4:
Hierarchy of Revision

Lesson 1: Hierarchy
Lesson 2: Beginnings & Endings
Lesson 3: Pacing
Lesson 4: Dialogue
Lesson 5: Subtext
Lesson 6: Action Verb & Word Choice

Module 5:
Writing with the Illustrator in Mind

Lesson 1: Settings
Lesson 2: Action, Movement, & Character
Lesson 3: Illustrator Strengths
Lesson 4: Writing Tips to Open the Door for Illustrators

Module 6:
The Emotional Heart of the Story

Lesson 1: Emotional Entities
Lesson 2: How Emotion Drives the Story
Lesson 3: Writing Emotion
Lesson 4: Deepening Emotion
Lesson 5: Interview with Giana

Everyone Has a Story to Tell

Hear from Amy Flynn

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Hear from Ann Gronvold

Who Should Take This Class?

Just Starting...

Jim has a step-by-step method, called "The Assignment," that he uses to help students come up with great stories.

Intermediate Storytellers

It can be hard to spot problems in your own manuscript. Jim shares tips on revising your own story, from foundational issues (like using the right story shape) to finer points (like choosing the right word).

Advanced Writers

Editors want picture book manuscripts that lend themselves to amazing illustrations. Learn specific ways that you can make your manuscript more appealing to illustrators and editors.

Advanced Illustrators

If you want to tell your own stories, taking this class can make that easier. You'll learn different storytelling and editing techniques that Jim has used successfully as an author-illustrator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, We think it will. Jim has distilled nearly 20 years of learning how and teaching how to write picture books into this one class. He focuses on practical advice for creating compelling stories that connect with kids and industry gatekeepers.

Many, perhaps most, published illustrators are eventually challenged by the editors or agents they work with to write their own stories. And it is something they willingly do, as it gives them more creative control over their art and their lives, and higher financial gain from their work. But even if you never want to write, your work will be better for understanding the writer’s mind, and how words and images work together in a picture book.

No. The class was designed to get beginners quickly up to speed, so they can advance through the modules and be strong, confident picture book writers by the end.

You can work completely at your own pace. So how much time you spend per week is up to you. One of the great things about Storyteller Academy’s structure is that, once you sign up for a class, you can view that class essentially forever. And if you sign up for the community level course, you can attend all the workshops for that class and for workshops offered for the same class in the future. You can also review recordings of all past workshops, or any workshops you miss. You set your own schedule and pace. Of course, the more work you put in, the quicker your skills will develop.

If you enroll into Makers Pro or buy the Community Plan, there are 6 workshops held during the 9-week term. Workshops are recorded, and replays are posted and available to all students who signed up for workshops, for as long as they care to access them. You can still submit work for consideration, and it can be reviewed during workshop if it is chosen, even if you miss that particular workshop. And you can participate in any future offerings of workshops for the class. So there is no need to entirely miss any workshop. They are all there for you.

Typically in a workshop, Jim chooses one student-submitted manuscript and discusses how he would revise it to make it better. He tends to focus on topics covered in that week’s or the upcoming week’s class. As for what those topics are:  Jim covers common subjects in an uncommon way. The class is designed to give very practical, usable instruction on writing in a fresh, deeper-than-usual way. Among the topics: “The Assignment,” a method used by Jim's critique group that has resulted in over 20 published books, “The Hierarchy of Revision,” about how to approach revising your text from the most foundational requirements to the fine, high-polishing items you do just before submission, “Rhymer Primer,” about why you should skip the rhyme but, if you can’t, how to make it perfect, “Writing for the Illustrator,” about what to leave out of your writing and what to put in instead to inspire your illustrator, and most importantly, “Connecting to a Child’s World,” about taking your adult passion and drive and translating it into a story that can touch a child’s heart.  

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