#ReVISIONweek Day 6: MAKE YOUR MANUSCRIPT SING

One day more…

west end live one day more GIF by Official London Theatre

Wow! I have truly enjoyed this week. The enthusiasm, ideas, and energy have been more than I could have hoped for. You are all amazing!

Today’s post is by writer, singer/songwriter, generally outstanding person, Shannon Stocker. Shannon’s debut picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY (Sleeping Bear Press), released on August 15, 2019. It is an outstanding must-have! Her next picture book, LISTEN, a biography about deaf percussionist, Evelyn Glennie (Dial/Random House) was just announced in PW this week! 

Now get ready to make your manuscript sing…

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By Shannon Stocker

Let’s start by debunking a common misperception:

Lyrical does NOT necessarily equal rhyming.

Rhyming does NOT necessarily equal lyrical.

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But just because you might not rhyme doesn’t mean you can’t write lyrically. Some of my most lyrical critique partners do not rhyme. They DO NOT have to go hand in hand.

But they CAN.

So what makes a picture book lyrical? And how can you use these tools to make your manuscript sing during the revision process? Let’s dive right into five of my favorite poetic devices, and how you can use these to improve upon a first (or second, or twentieth) draft.

  1. Repetition – think of your favorite song. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Hear it in your head before reading further.

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Did you start from the beginning of the song? Or did you start from the chorus? People will often remember the chorus more easily than the verses because of repetition. Repetition of the words, the melody, the harmonies, the chords. When it’s done right, repetition makes things memorable. Whether a book rhymes, as with CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM, or is written in prose, as with LOVE YOU FOREVER, repetition can endear a picture book to us for a lifetime. Does your book have a recurring theme, sentence, or phrase? Could it?

  1. Alliteration – Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

How old were you when you first learned this tongue-twister? Have you taught it to your children? Why is it so fun to say? Because of alliteration! All those wonderful consonants match at the beginning of each adjacent (or closely-connected) word in the sentence, making it a pleasure to pronounce! Super to say! Delightful to declare!

You get the picture.

The point is, one of the coolest parts of revising, in my opinion, is going back over a manuscript to find other ways to say the exact same thing, but in a more musical manner (see what I did there?).  Check this out:

“It was hot outside.”

Meh. That sentence is meh. I don’t FEEL anything at all from that sentence. So let’s make it a little better by showing, rather than telling. 

“The hot sun saddened her.”

OK, so now we get a sense that our character is uncomfortable. We’ve even added some alliteration to make it sing a little. But how about this…

“The sweltering sun singed her spirit.”

See? Alliteration can make a sentence sing.

  1. Assonance: I served the bird a gherkin.

Assonance is defined as the repetition of a sound of a vowel (or diphthong) in non-rhyming syllables that are close to one another within a sentence. As with alliteration, assonance can easily be worked into your manuscript after it’s been written. When revising, think of other ways to say the same thing. Use your thesaurus to look for words with the same meaning that might allow for alliteration or assonance. Play with the words and see how they feel to you! For example:

“The girl spun around in circles.”

You get a visual with this sentence, but it doesn’t sing. What if we used words that capitalized on the “er” sound in “girl” and “circle?”

“The girl’s skirt whirled as she twirled in circles.”

Doesn’t that sentence sing?

  1. Onomatopoeia:

BOOM!

Shush.

hummmmm…

WHACK!

Onomatopoeia is a fabulous way to make the reader feel like she’s physically and emotionally inside the story. We naturally connect to sounds and kids love to say them. It’s also a super easy way to show something, rather than telling. And it’s a simple tool to use when revising.

  1. Rhyme:

Last, but certainly not least, we have rhyme. Rhyme is definitely not required to write lyrically, but when it’s done correctly, it can be a beautiful thing. But—to be done correctly, you really need to understand more than just what makes two (or more) words rhyme. If you’re interested in writing in verse or using rhyme to make your manuscript sing, be sure you understand some basic language before drafting:

  • Meter – do you know what an anapest is? Iamb? Do you understand what tetrameter means? Pentameter? If not, do more homework before trying to write in verse. You wouldn’t tackle a book about deserts if you’d never stepped foot out of the rainforest before. OK, so that analogy is mediocre at best…but you know what I mean.
  • Forced/lazy rhyme – are you restructuring your sentence to make a rhyme work? Switching things around to make them rhyme, you are? You’re not Yoda. Don’t do it.
  • Near rhymes – “About” and “cloud” do not rhyme. Neither do “you” and “shoes.” There are so many words in the English language…don’t settle. Find the perfect ones. 

The revision process can be grueling, without a doubt. We find ourselves needing to kill darlings, change plotlines, increase stakes, add heart…it’s daunting. But revising to make your manuscript sing can truly be fun! Play with synonyms, metaphors, and similes. Rearrange sentences, strengthen verbs, and delete adverbs. Little touches like these can make a huge difference in taking your manuscript from lifeless to lyrical. 

Mundane to musical. 

Routine to rhythmic.

You get the picture. 😉

excited shimmy GIF by Sing Movie

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Untitled presentation

Shannon Stocker is an award-winning author and proud word nerd who lives in Louisville, KY, with her husband, Greg, and their children, Cassidy and Tye. Her debut picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY (Sleeping Bear Press), released on August 15, 2019. Her next picture book, LISTEN, will be a biography about deaf percussionist, Evelyn Glennie (Dial/Random House), and several of her nonfiction essays have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and she created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors. Cool facts: Currently writing her memoir, Shannon is a medical school graduate, a coma survivor, an RSD/CRPS patient and advocate, and a singer/songwriter who once performed two songs, including one original, as part of an opening act for Blake Shelton. To subscribe to her blog, visit her website, http://www.shannonstocker.com/blog/. She can also be found tweeting positive quotes and mantras @iwriteforkidz. Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio.

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#ReVISIONweek Day 5: PACING TRICKS THAT STRENGTHEN YOUR MANUSCRIPT

Congratulations! You’ve made it all the way to Friday! I hope you’re feeling proud of the work you’ve done so far. It doesn’t matter how big or how small your revisions have been. The fact that you’ve devoted this many days to thinking about revisions is a really BIG deal!

HIGH FIVE!

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Today’s post is all about pacing! As we head into the weekend, it seems only fitting that we take a look at tricks to slow our roll, and tips to pick up the pace.

Get ready. Get set. Go…

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By Lauren Kerstein

So, you’ve revised and revised, but that pesky manuscript isn’t quite where you want it to be. It might be time to check your pacing and incorporate a few tricks.

Trick #1: Slow Your Roll:
You can slow your manuscript down in order to highlight emotional resonance, increase tension, fuel your reader’s anticipation, or hone in on important details.

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Tools to Slow Your Roll:
– Use short sentences.
– Separate thoughts
                   on
                        multiple lines.
– Stretch out the moment with ellipses…
– Maximize your page turns (more on this below).
– Add sensory details that draw the reader in.
– Select words that slow down the moment.

Trick #2: Pick up the Pace:
Similarly, you can speed up your manuscript in order to escalate tension, emotional response, further your narrative arc, or amp up your reader’s excitement.

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Tools to Pick up the Pace:
– Examine your rhythm. Select words that keep it snappy.
– Shorten your sentences.
– Add sounds, alliteration, or phrases that support a quicker pace.
– Remove as much description as possible.
– Slim down your dialogue.

Trick #3: Well-Placed Page Turns
Page turns are critical to pacing.

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Tools to Place Page Turns Well:
– Dummy your manuscript.
– When I dummy, I cut out each page and lay it out on my kitchen table. Then I walk around the table and read each page. As I read, I ask myself:
* Did I set up my page turns in as powerful way as possible?
* Did I walk at the same pace around the table or slow at times and speed up at times?
* Can I imagine the illustrations for each spread?
* Did I create motion in each spread?
* Does each spread create a new scene?
* Did I create intriguing page turns?
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All of these tricks and tools will help you strengthen your pacing as you revise!
For another Quick-Read Crafty Tip about pacing, click here.

 

As Charlie would say, “You’ve got this!”

Feel. Write. Risk.

Lauren
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Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, two daughters (who are beautiful inside and out) and her crazy, yet lovable dog Hudson. Her hobbies include reading, watching movies, exercising, taking her dog for walks, and snuggling with her girls. She is represented by Deborah Warren with East/West Literary Agency. Lauren’s debut: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES splashed to bookshelves near you on June 1, 2019. The companion volume, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT, is expected Fall 2020. Lauren also has another soon-to-be announced book upcoming in 2020. You can follow Lauren on Twitter: @LaurenKerstein and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/laurenkersteinauthor/.

Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves

 

 

#ReVISIONweek Day 4: REVISE YOUR SCHEDULE (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS– SAY NO TO DISTRACTIONS

Wahoo, #ReVISIONweek-ers! You’ve made it over hump day.

The revision train is full steam ahead as we enter day 4.

train race GIF by Burger Records

I hope you’ve picked up a few new tricks and feel good about the revisions you’ve made so far.

Today’s post is all about PROTECTING WRITING TIME by the talented and amazingly funny, Michal Babay. Stay-tuned, Michal will be announcing extremely exciting news soon! I just know her post will help you prioritize your writing time. To your writing heart, you must be true…

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By Michal Babay

Last year, after nearly missing a writing deadline because life kept distracting me, I had an epiphany.

It was time to revise…

EVERYTHING!

Well, everything writing related: my schedule, focus, and priorities.  

Here’s what happened:

As soon as I heard about Tara Luebbe’s mentorship program, Writing With the Stars, I couldn’t wait! I immediately pulled up the application page and filled in my name, my dream mentor’s name, and the date. 

Then…my cat barfed. 

On the nice rug.

So I put our three dogs outside (they’d begun “helping” me clean up), wiped down the rug, opened windows for non-barfy air, and gave the cat fresh food/water. 

And since I was already in the kitchen refilling her water, I washed dishes, wiped down counters, ate a sandwich, tripped over a suitcase left by the door, yelled at my empty house, let the dogs back in, called my daughter’s school to arrange a meeting, called my son’s school to arrange a meeting, called my old principal to discuss those meetings, realized it was my day to pick up carpool, grabbed the keys, and I was outta there.

It wasn’t until weeks later, right before the due date, that I realized I’d never completed my application. In desperation, I pulled an “almost” all nighter. And it was miserable.

Time. It all comes back to time. 

As in, how should I spend it?

What are my priorities TODAY?

Where did it go?!

As a die-hard procrastinator and pantser, it takes a few tricks to get my butt in chair (BIC) and stay focused. Luckily, there’s a world of wisdom out there from writers wiser than myself, and I’ve gathered a few to share: 

Trick 1: Make writing part of your daily schedule. 

Writing requires time. We all know this. We’ve read the craft books and we realize those words aren’t going to write themselves. 

BUT… life.

We all have numerous demands on our time (day jobs, kids, elderly parents, etc.). However, we can’t let those demands kill our dreams.

In order to take ourselves seriously as writers, the work must be part of our daily schedule. 

Some ways to do this are:

  • Find a time that works for you, and stick to it: Join the 6 a.m. club (or 3 p.m. club, or even the 11 p.m. club if necessary!). 

Here’s what RJ Palacio says about her writing process for WONDER:

“It took me about a year and a half to write WONDER. The only time of day that I could find to write, since I had a full-time job and two young children to keep me busy during the day, was in the middle of the night, so I got into this routine where I would wake up at midnight and write til 3 am. I did that every night until I finished the first draft of the book.”

  • Now realistically, some days our schedules go out the window. Life happens.

  That just means it’s time for yet another revision!

Look for hidden pockets of time in those crazy days: doctor’s waiting rooms, kid’s soccer practice, while the noodles boil, etc. 

Instead of playing games, write.

A friend of mine revised her manuscript in hospital waiting rooms. And that manuscript? It’s a published book now!

A story written in 5-minute increments is still a story.

  • How do you revise in a hospital waiting room if your computer is at home? So glad you asked! Use Google Docs. This way, as long as you’re holding a smartphone, you’ll always have access to your manuscripts. Revise your stories anytime, anywhere!

But, speaking of phones…

Trick 2: Put your cell phone AWAY! 

When you are able to dedicate a solid chunk of time to writing, that phone needs to disappear. 

Seriously.

It’s time to revise your focus!

  • Turn your cell phone to silent and put it away (FAR AWAY. Like, the other side of your house, in a closet, or under that giant pile of mail). The farther away you are from those distracting pings and dings, the more focused and productive you’ll be.

Psychology Today published an article about this:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-bad-looks-good/201807/how-your-cell-phone-habits-impact-your-productivity

But, it’s hard saying good-bye for a long time. How long is long enough?

Trick 3: Use a timer

This will vary for each of us. For me, 60-minute writing chunks work best. That way I get into the flow and my BIC doesn’t get too sore. 

And guess what? I’ve found that most days, even after my hour ends (and I’ve indulged in coffee/food/ and some doggy attention) the work has taken root in my psyche and it calls me back to the computer. So I revise my schedule and reset that timer.

My critique partner, Lauren Kerstein, taught me this trick, and it’s been a game changer!

Here’s the basic 60-minute sand timer I use:  

No photo description available.

But, what about those days that you don’t feel like working?

Trick 4: Find an accountability partner. 

Set a goal with an accountability partner for days when you’re really struggling to focus. 

Then …hold each other accountable! 

The knowledge that another author is expecting an email with my latest WIP or revision is enough to get me moving. Now!

To this end, my critique partner, Katie Frawley, and I designed a writing challenge specifically targeted at lighting a fire under our butts.

And we cleverly named it: #FireButtChallenge.

If you’re interested in joining us, write us on Twitter at @KatieFrawley1 or @MicBabay, and we’ll tag you next time we spring a #FireButtChallenge on the world!

Trick 5: If it’s not one of the B’s (bleeding, barfing, broken bones) IT CAN WAIT!

As you saw above, a number of distractions led me away from my writing. So I’ve learned to say NO to anything that takes away my writing time (which explains why I tripped over that suitcase instead of putting it away).

Of course, there are hundreds more ways to revise your schedule and find time to write.

Your challenge now is to identify the key distractions in your life, and work to minimize their impact. 

What’s YOUR favorite tip?

Let’s work together to revise our schedules, and thus, revise our writing!

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Michal and Lauren (2)

Michal Babay was born in Israel, raised in Arizona, and currently lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids. After many years as an elementary school teacher and resource specialist, Michal decided to say “YES” to her writing dreams. She now spends her days wrangling teenagers, telling the dogs to stop barking, ignoring cat barf, and saying “NO” to distractions. Michal is represented by Laurel Symonds at The Bent Agency. You can follow Michal on Twitter at: @MicBabay. You can also visit Michal’s website at http://www.MichalBabay.com.

#ReVISIONweek Day 3: FILTERING FEEDBACK: HOW TO STAY TRUE TO YOUR VISION DURING REVISIONS

Hello #ReVISIONweek revisers! Happy HUMP day! I hope you’ve had two wonderfully productive days of revision, and are excited for day 3!

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Today’s post is perfect for a mid-week check-in. Joana Pastro is here to make sure you’ve tackled your revisions in a way that has stayed true to your vision. Joana’s delightful debut picture book, LILLYBELLE, A DAMSEL NEVER IN DISTRESS, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz, will be published by Kane Press in Fall/2020.

Throw down your hatchets for just a moment and read on…

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By Joana Pastro

You’ve been working on a story. You’ve revised it a few times. Now you’ve reached that point where you have no idea what to do next, but you know there’s room for improvement. You need FRESH EYES.

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Having trusted peers to guide you along the revision path is essential. So if you don’t have a critique group yet, get one! 

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Then send your beloved manuscript to your new critique partners. 

Once you receive feedback, savor the praise. It might be that they love the premise, the voice was spot on, that they couldn’t stop laughing, or maybe that you pulled on their heartstrings. Hooray! 

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But—and there’s ALWAYS a but—if your new critique partners are doing their jobs, then they’ll also tell you how to improve your manuscript. Maybe they think the stakes aren’t high enough, or maybe there’s not enough heart, or maybe you have two problems. In the end, though, it will always be up to you to put their advice through your personal colander to decide what fits with your vision for the story.

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Feedback can point out issues with:

  • Line edits: grammar, punctuation, word choice.
  • Showing versus telling
  • Voice
  • Heart
  • Structure
  • Point of View (POV)
  • Premise
  • Potential/Marketability
  • Controversial issues
  • And more!

 

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So, how do you start revising? You will probably find that some suggestions resonated with you immediately. I find that to be especially true about line edits. You might be able to incorporate those right away.

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But what about the rest? The suggestions or questions that:

a) resonate with you, but require some pondering.
b) you’re not sure what to do with, but might be worth giving a try.
c) make you want to “kill the messenger” err critiquer. (Don’t.)

Here’s what I do:

I print my manuscript, and write all the comments down using a different color per critiquer. This way I can refer back to the comments at any time without having to go through all the hard copies or files again. My copy will look something like this:
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Now, take a step back.

Really. 

Resist the urge to jump right back into revisions. 

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Let those questions and suggestions simmer, and allow your ideas to bloom. You’ll be surprised at how much work your brain does without you even realizing it. 

Take a walk, a shower, a nap, work on something else.

Eat some chocolate! 

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Let your manuscript sit.

After a few days, come back and read again. Remember this: revisions are fueled by questions. Be ready to ask and answer lots of them.

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At this point, you should be able to start revising with a much better grasp of what to keep from the feedback, and how to proceed. 

  • You might want to give some of the suggestions a try. For instance, write it in a different point of view, structure, or even switch your main character.
  • You should be able to assess how much your story will change if you add that little detail, or change that scene. How much of my story will need to be reworked? Is it worth it?
  • Ask questions. Would my character do this? Does this make sense? Is he behaving and/or sounding like say a four-year-old? 
  • Do I have more than one story problem and/or more than one goal? Sometimes a critique partner will pick one for you and make suggestions based on that. Is this the story I want to tell? What do you want the reader to take away?
  • Does this align with my vision? Is this the story I want to tell? (Yes, you should be asking this question over and over again.) 
  • Sometimes someone suggests something that seems like total nonsense. BUT WAIT A SECOND… that idea that doesn’t work at all, or it might open a different, more interesting path for your story. Don’t discard the nonsense!

Now that you’ve asked and answered all of those burning questions, dive in! 

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Enjoy the ride, and happy revision!

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Originally from Brazil, Joana now lives in Florida with her amazing husband, her three extremely creative children and a rambunctious Morkie. For as long as Joana can remember, she wanted to be an artist of some kind. So, she became an architect. But once her first child was born, all the visits to the library, and the countless story times made Joana start dreaming of becoming a children’s book author. She had no idea how to start, so for seven years all she did was collect story ideas on a little notebook. Finally, one Sunday afternoon she decided to sit down and write…

Joana is a member of SCBWI and is represented by Natascha Morris with Bookends Literary. Her debut picture book, LILLYBELLE, A DAMSEL NEVER IN DISTRESS, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz, will be published by Kane Press in Fall/2020. Much like LillyBelle, Joana Pastro loves a good tea party . . . or any party, really! When not writing, you can find Joana baking (and eating) delicious desserts, singing as loud as she can, or twirling around the house. Visit her at www.joanapastro.com, and on twitter @jopastro. 
      

 

 

#ReVISIONweek Day 2: REVISION TIPS FROM THE PICTURE BOOK MECHANIC

CONGRATULATIONS! You made it through the first day of #ReVISIONweek! We hope you had some quality BIC (butt in chair), or SD (standing desk) time yesterday.

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And now, get ready for Day 2!

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Today’s post is by our very own Picture Book Mechanic. Lynne Marie is always offering a helping hand, sage writing wisdom, and industry support. Lynne is the author of many books as listed below, including her brand-new book Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, 2019), which is funny and adorable! We just know her tips will pave the way to fantastic revision work today!

So, let’s go!

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By Lynne Marie

Think of your manuscript as a car. 

Of course, you want to get your car out of the garage, up and running, and on that road to success where it may take you far! 

But if your car is broken down or missing parts, it won’t run. 

Don’t give up — most every problem is fixable.  

Here’s What to Do

  1. Roll up your sleeves (be ready to work). 
  2. Read the manual (read books on craft, books in the same genre). 
  3. Inspect the body for problems from all directions (with open eyes and objectivity). 
  4. Start the car and listen to what the car is telling you (read it aloud). 
  5. Pass it by a formal inspection (critique group or paid critique). 
  6. Make a list of concerns.
  7. One by one, start tinkering away. 

Tinker Tid-bits

I critique a good amount of manuscripts per week, even per day. You would be surprised at how many have the same issues. So here are some important factors to consider as you revise. 

  1. Is the chassis stable? (Is the Structure sound). 

If not, try installing these components. 

  • Do you have a likeable, but flawed main character? 
  • Is the character a child, or a character with child-like qualities?
  • Does the character have a compelling problem?
  • Are the Character and Problem relatable to children?
  • Is there little, if any, adult interference?
  • Does the character attempt to solve his/her own problem?
  • Do the attempts increase and are there emotional responses to the failures?
  • Is there white space in the manuscript and room for the illustrator?
  • Is there a deep, dark moment where all hope seems lost?
  • Does the flaw, if possible, somehow play a part in the resolution?
  • Is the resolution satisfying and a result of the character’s actions?

 

  1. Is it geared toward the right driver? (Age Group) 

If not, get in touch with your 6-year- old self. With the exception of some “exceptions,” the main character is a child or has child-like qualities, so an adult POV, if any, should be minimal. 

  1. Have you installed the right parts, or do you have extra parts installed that hamper the running? Have you used the right gas? (Language/Text)

Are you using active verbs (not passive like was/is/has/had/have, etc.) and strong nouns? Is it overly wordy? Are you describing things that should be left to the art? Are you stacking prepositional phrases and making sentences long and diluting the visual impact of them? Remember, less is more and you should always convey a line in as few words as possible. 

If a line doesn’t speak to characterization or move the story forward, it usually isn’t right for the story (even if you think it’s a bright/shiny part). If the line doesn’t point anywhere, or veers off the path, you risk losing the reader. Every single line must prod the plot toward its final destination – a satisfying resolution.

This is just one way approach your revisions this week. I truly do hope that I have helped you to make your car (manuscript) run better and further than you ever thought it might! 


 

vNx2_VXh
Lynne Marie is the author of
Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 10/16/2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, 2019)  and her first non-fiction picture book, Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019) and more forthcoming. She’s represented by Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency. When she’s not cruising around the world, she lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds. She runs a Critique and Mentoring Service at www.ThePictureBookMechanic.com and is a Travel Agent at www.PixieVacations.com/Lynne. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com.

 

#ReVISIONweek Day 1: NOTE TO SELF: HOW TO CRITIQUE YOUR MANUSCRIPT LIKE A CP

WELCOME TO ReVISIONweek!

Γειά Σου Hello GIF by Cheezburger

We’re THRILLED you’re here! Each day, you’ll receive tips and tricks from one of our members. We hope the posts will offer guidance and support as you dive head first into your revisions. Please be sure to briefly comment on each post so that you can enter to win prizes at the end of this week-long challenge.

Today’s post is by the talented Katie Frawley, one of the founders of fantastically fiery #FireButtChallenge. Her amazing debut picture book is slated for a January 2021 release.

Without further ado…

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By: Katie Frawley

After I crank out a fresh first draft, I usually feel one of two ways about it:

  1. Wow! This story is amazing! I’m pretty sure it requires only minor tweaks before a Big Five editor snaps it up. (Spoiler alert: It’s never as great as I think.)
  2. Wow! This story is garbage! I’m pretty sure I should throw my computer into a river and put myself out of my misery. (Spoiler alert: It’s never as bad as I think.)

The truth is usually somewhere between these two extremes, but how can I tell? Well, I start by giving myself a little break from my manuscript…about a week or so. Then, I open up my first draft file, and critique it like it’s someone else’s work, by making notes in the margins.

-I look for plot issues. (“Pacing is sloooooow here. Think about cutting this scene.”)

-I ask big picture questions. (“Is this character likable? Does the reader have a chance to root for him? Can we make her blue page even bluer?”)

-I even pat myself on the back when I deserve it. (“HAHAHAHA! Kids will love this!”)

Making notes in the margins helps give me a little emotional distance from the story. We LOVE our stories, our characters, and every itty bitty word! So it can be tough to step back and look through an objective lens. Marking up the manuscript like you would someone else’s work makes it just a teensy bit easier to see with fresh eyes and kill your darlings when necessary.

After I have made all my notes, good and bad, I give the story a second break. In another few days, I’ll be ready to go back into my first draft, read my own critique, and revise.

Only after I’ve completed this very first round of revisions is my story ready for my critique partners’ eyes. The Big Five editors will just have to wait!

——————————————————–

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AUTHOR BIO
: Katie Frawley was born and raised in the great state of Florida (GO GATORS!). She lives in South Florida with her husband and four children. Katie works from home, writing (and REVISING!) her picture book manuscripts. She also enjoys testing new recipes with her four miniature sous chefs; defending her backyard garden against the never-ending onslaught of the invading reptile horde (she does not like iguanas); and reading all kinds of wonderful books (whenever her children allow her a spare minute)! Katie’s debut picture book will be announced in trade publications soon and is slated for a January 2021 release date. She is represented by Curtis Russell of PS Literary. To find out more, visit
www.katiefrawley.com or follow her on Twitter @KatieFrawley1.

 

Twas the night before #ReVISIONweek…

… and all through the writer’s community, many creatures were stirring, even a writing mouse.

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Manuscripts were lifted out of their drawers,

dusted off and perused for the revisions in store.

Pens were set out.

Notebooks glistened.

Inspiration crept in for all who would listen.

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Tomorrow’s the day! Let the polishing begin.

And if you’re not sure how to start…

…I have a tip straight from my writer’s  heart.

Write a pitch for your manuscript. Find the emotional center, the essence, the core.

Think about what you want to say. Open your creative door!

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Now, as you can see, I do not write in rhyme. But, I sure had fun writing this post for a moment in time.

Sweet dreams, my writing friends.

And to all, a good night!

We’ll see you tomorrow when we find words that are “just write!”

 

Feel. Write. Risk.

– Lauren

 

 

 

#ReVISIONweek Registration is OPEN 

GREETINGS KIDLIT WRITERS! The time has come! #ReVISIONweek enrollment begins NOW!

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REV YOUR REVISION ENGINES! 

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The fun is about to begin!

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Add your name to the comments below. Then, we’ll know you are ready to revise! (Have no fear if your name doesn’t show up immediately, Lauren may need to moderate your comment before it appears.)person calligraphy GIF
  2. Pick one manuscript on which you want to focus all week, or pick multiple manuscripts. The choice is yours!

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  3. Spread the word! Tell your friends, colleagues, critique partners, aunts, uncles, the mail carrier! The more, the merrier!barking nicki minaj GIF by DNCE
  4. Be kind to yourself! Writing and revising are HARD! Do what you can.r&r cat GIF by ASPCA

Please find our schedule below. But just like our manuscripts, we may revise this schedule as well. Everything is a work in progress, right?!

CALENDAR (4)

And now, check out these fantastic prizes.

Prizes (1)

You will be eligible to win if you:
1. Work on revisions at your own pace
2. Read and comment on each blog post
3. Enter to win on Sunday, September 22nd or Monday, September 23rd.

The winners will be announced in a blog post on Friday, September 27th!
We can’t wait to see you there!

As Charlie would say, “You’ve got this!”

Feel. Write. Risk.
– Joana, Katie, Lauren, Lynne, Michal, and Shannon

 

ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE GIVEAWAY

If you’re looking for an exciting giveaway, look no further, because…
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not only do you have the chance to win a Rosie the Dragon and Charlie prize pack, but… a school of your choice will win prizes as well.

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Here’s how: (Each of the following is worth Rafflecopter entry points. The more you do, the higher your chances of winning.)

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1. Sign up for my blog. I don’t post often, so I promise you won’t have multiple blog posts languishing in your inbox. (You can sign up at the bottom of this post.) (If you’re already signed up, awesome!)

2. Check out ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Kerstein/Wragg) from your local library. (You may have to check it out through Prospector if they don’t have it yet.)

Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves Cover

3. Spread the word to friends and family via social media, email, or old fashioned word of mouth. You can use the hashtag #RosieandCharlieGiveaway if you wish.

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Art by Nate Wragg

 

 

 

4. And, if you want FOUR extra bonus points, you can visit your local Indie bookstore, request they carry Rosie and Charlie in their store, and perhaps even buy a book or two while you’re there to support them! We love our Independent Bookstores!

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Now, fill out the Rafflecopter to enter for a chance to win a Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Prize Pack including:

  • A signed copy of ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES for yourself and the school/classroom of your choice.
  • A free 30-minute Skype visit with me for the school/classroom of your choice.
  • Rosie and Charlie swag.
  • And, if you want, you can have your picture posted on Rosie and Charlie’s Photo Gallery of Fame. (Or your student’s picture, child’s picture, nephew’s picture, dog’s picture, etc). https://laurenkerstein.net/trailer-and-photo-gallery

The #RosieandCharlieGiveaway begins TODAY and runs through August 30, 2019.

(Please note: You will have to sign in to the Rafflecopter using your email address or Facebook account. I have never received junk mail from them as a result of doing so.)

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So… spread the word. Head on down to your local library. Visit an Independent Bookstore. And make waves with Rosie and Charlie!

May the giveaway fairies be with you!

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Feel. Write. Risk.

– Lauren

 

 

LAUREN’S QUICK-READ CRAFTY TIPS: CONFESSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF A DEBUT AUTHOR

The time has come! ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES is swimming to shelves near you…

TODAY!

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As I officially welcome Rosie and Charlie into the world, I have a few confessions and recommendations about the launching process.

Confession #1: Launching a book is exciting … terrifying … exhilarating … nerve-wracking … wonderful … exhausting … and overwhelming. It is much more intense than I ever imagined.

Recommendation: I noticed the whole process felt better when I let myself feel all of the feelings, instead of fighting them.

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Confession #2: I may be a national public speaker, but I was TERRIFIED to read my picture book to a classroom of children. What if I couldn’t engage them? What if the room erupted into total mayhem? What if … GASP … they didn’t like my book?

Recommendation: Per the terrific advice of my critique partner, Sophia Gholz (THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST), I offered a “sneak peek reading” at my girls’ old elementary school. I didn’t charge, which eliminated a lot of the pressure. I limited it to two 30-minute segments (50 children each) which was perfect. I read, answered questions, and most importantly remembered the advice of my friend, Laura Roettiger (ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON) and just had fun. I highly recommend dipping your school-visit toes into the water this way.

It was MAGICAL! happy unicorn GIF by TJ Fuller

Confession #3: I’m still editing my book even though it’s finished! I think it’s nearly impossible to turn off our editor eye, even when the book swims into the world. I am relieved, however, that I still love the book no matter how many times I read it out loud!

Recommendation: We all know how important it is to read our books out loud each step of the way. I want to add one subtle tip to this recommendation: Read your book out loud with a child audience in mind. You might even hold it up for your imaginary audience. How will they react? Where would you want to pause to clarify or share? Will each page-spread engage them? This might help you make your book even stronger.

Confession #4: I wanted to do ALL things marketing, but I am only one person. Figuring out where to draw the line has been very challenging for me.

Recommendation: You can’t do everything! Pick a few areas on which you want to focus your marketing efforts. I’ve focused on blog tours, social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), making my own book trailer, hosting a big launch (with fun swag), and ensuring my book had visibility in multiple places (feel free to ask more about this in the comments below). I also created a Rosie and Charlie Photo Gallery and would LOVE to post your photo there! Check it out!

The bottom line: Focus on the marketing tasks that feel right for you! And remember, marketing isn’t just for those who are launching. No matter where you are in your writing career, write down marketing strategies that catch your eye. These strategies will help you perfect your pitches, hone in on your writing, and prepare your future launch.

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Confession #5: Launching a book increased my writerly self-doubt. It didn’t erase it. Writerly self-doubt (as my friend and critique partner, Katie Frawley says) is real. My anti-muse is not a nice creature. You’ll never write another book again! Nobody will like Rosie and Charlie! People will wonder how you ever landed an agent/editor.

Recommendation: Stay connected to supportive people via critique groups, writing challenges (#NaPiBoWriWee, #ReVISIONweek, #ReFoReMo, #StoryStorm, #12×12 (Julie Hedlund), and #FireButtChallenge…), and writing organizations and opportunities like SCBWI and Rate Your Story. The relationships you’ve built will act as your Patronus!

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And TRUST! Trust the process. Trust your writing. Trust your muse. Most importantly, trust yourself!

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So, as ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES officially splashes into this world, I want to extend a huge thank you to this incredible KidLit Community! Thank you for your support. Thank you for creating a safe environment in which I could share my confessions. Thank you for enriching peoples’ lives with your creativity!

I also want to thank Deborah Warren, Marilyn Brigham, and everyone at Two Lions for believing in Rosie and Charlie from their first ripple to their BIG SPLASH! I am forever grateful! Thank you to my family and friends who have celebrated each success and hugged me through every setback. Thank you to ALL of my critique partners who have held my hand and supported me unconditionally. Writing is a team effort!

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Finally, a HUGE thank you to Nate Wragg, whose creative genius brought Rosie and Charlie to life in the most amazing way. I am in awe of your talent and vision, and look forward to our next Rosie and Charlie journey together! (YES! YAY! Another Rosie and Charlie adventure is on its way!)

waving-together.jpgArt by Nate Wragg

 

So, write on! Live courageously! Make waves!

As Charlie would say, “You’ve got this!”

 

Feel. Write. Risk.

– Lauren