Writing and Illustrating for Children

Mon 14 September 2020 - Fri 18 September 2020
Tutors / Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty
Guest Reader / Catherine Johnson
Course Fee / From £450 - £550 per person
Genres / IllustratingWriting for Children and Young Adults
Language / BilingualEnglish

Most children are introduced to the power of stories through picture books. The best picture books tell a story through a combination of words and images that is greater than the sum of its parts. Whether a writer, an illustrator or both, on this course you’ll have the opportunity to experiment with both disciplines – and explore how artist and writer work together.

Writing a story in less than 500 words requires a great deal of thought and discipline. This course will explore how to generate and select the best ideas, and how to structure your narrative considering how the illustrations will play a part in telling the story. You will develop your own memorable characters and place them in a richly imagined world, adding layers of meaning through pictures and words. We’ll look at the pros and cons of writing in rhyme, and explore what different artistic styles can bring to a story. There will be opportunities to edit your work, which is an essential part of the process, and before the end of the course the tutors will share their experience of what publishers are looking for in a manuscript, and offer advice about preparing a portfolio.


Since moving to Wales when their children were small, both Helen and Thomas have learned Welsh. They have passed their Uwch (Higher) Welsh exams and, although this course will be run in English, they are happy to converse in Welsh with anyone who would like to.


Helen Docherty

Helen Docherty is a children’s writer based in Swansea. Her picture books, many of which are illustrated by Thomas Docherty, have been translated into 24 languages and shortlisted for various national awards. Helen’s latest book, You Can Never Run Out of Love (Simon & Schuster, 2017) was illustrated by Ali Pye. Helen worked for many years as a French and Spanish teacher before becoming an author, and also has an MA in Film and Television Production from Bristol University which helped her to develop skills in crafting narrative. She is on the steering committee for the Society of Authors Wales, and delivers regular story and writing workshops for children and adults.

Thomas Docherty

Thomas Docherty is a children’s illustrator and writer who has won numerous awards for his illustrations. His book Little Boat (Templar Publishing, 2009) was shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 2009. He has recently collaborated with former Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson, on two illustrated plays for children: Bombs and Blackberries (2020) and Chariots and Champions (2019) both published by Hodder Children's Books. Thomas studied metalwork and sculpture at college before becoming an illustrator. He also teaches illustration and participates regularly in workshops and events all over the country.

Guest Reader

Catherine Johnson

Catherine Johnson is an award-winning author for children and young adults. She has twice been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and her most recent title Freedom won the Little Rebel’s Award 2019 and has been nominated for the IBBY Honour List 2020. Catherine also writes for film, television and radio. Her TV work includes the adaption of Simon Schama’s Rough Crossings for TV, and Holby City and she is currently working on an adaptation of Miranda Kaufmann's Black Tudors for Silverprint Pictures.


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