Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Life of a Picture Book Part Seven: Letting it Sit

I have surprised myself by letting Winifred sit for the past several days. And because I will be unplugging for the next couple of days, it will sit even longer. That's a good thing!

It is important to let a manuscript sit for several days or weeks, while focusing your attention elsewhere. This is because when you finally come back to it, you'll see it with a fresh perspective and be able to be more objective about your story. Problems you didn't see before might suddenly be glaringly obvious. That stanza you really loved might be able to be improved even more. A line you adored might seem even more adorable once you've had some time away.

I'm looking forward to going back to Winifred and see what our time apart has done for our relationship. I wonder if she misses me?

Read The Life of a Picture Book Part Eight: Reunion

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Life of a Picture Book Part Six: Spit Shining

Once the first readers were done reading and commenting on my ogress story (we'll call it Winifred from now on), it was time to start revising. That involved addressing any questions or concerns the readers had about the story as well as tweaking language, rhyme and meter and make it as fun and readable as possible.

The first readers read the story knowing that it wasn't polished yet. So their comments primarily had to do with the big picture.

The main thing I had to work on first was the logic of the story line. For one of my readers, the motives of Winifred and the antagonist (Grizelda) were unclear. My solution involved working in some backstory to reveal more about their relationship and also to show how Grizelda feels threatened by Winifred's actions.

Once the big picture problems were taken care of, I went through to fun-up the language, adjust for meter, check for forced rhymes, cut an unnecessary stanza, rewrite other stanzas and (deep breath) make sure this story is as gross as it should be, because it is, after all, about ogres.

The next step will be to have a few fellow writers (and maybe their kids) go through it line by line. And I will force myself to leave it alone for a few days in the mean time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New art project

Today the kids helped me take my creativity in another direction. You may know that I like to do art projects with my kids. Today we started a MEGA art project.

For the past few months we have been saving up this kind of stuff... that we could do a big collage. We bought a 24x30 canvas and started this project:

It's a cityscape, and it is turning out great so far! If you look closely you might be able to see what we've used so far (besides a little paint and gel medium).

I'll post more photos as it is further along.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Life of a Picture Book Part Five: First Readers

Having a few "first readers" is an important part of the life of a picture book (or any book). In my case, my very first reader is usually one of my daughters. By their reactions I can tell if a story is working or not. While it is likely that they are biased, they aren't shy about telling me when something doesn't seem to make sense. And the younger one has a real eye for proofreading! The next reader is a trusted writer friend, in this case Corey.

So, what did they say about my little ogress?

Daughter #1 said she liked it, but the ending was a little cheesy. She wasn't sure at the time if that was good or bad. After thinking about it, she decided she liked the ending.

Daughter #2 also liked it and didn't find the ending cheesy at all. Of course, she pointed out a spot that needed a comma.

My son liked the story, didn't think the ending was cheesy, and appreciated the gross humor involved in writing a story about ogres.

Corey said that it was cute, but had questions concerning the logic of one character's behavior. Fortunately, the questions should be able to be answered with some fairly minor revisions and additions. Corey did not think the ending was cheesy.

After having them read it, of course I had questions of my own. What did you think of this line? Did it make sense that the characters did this?

I noted the concerns and began taking steps to address them. Soon my little ogress will be ready for a thorough critique!

Read The Life of a Picture Book Part Six: Spit Shining

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Life of a Picture Book Part Four: Full Draft

I have a complete rhyming draft of my ogress story! I finished it this morning, and then sent the very rough draft to Corey. It will be good to see her thoughts on it before I dive head-first into revisions.

Full draft done. Now the real work begins!

Read The Life of a Picture Book Part Five: First Readers

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Life of a Picture Book Part Three: Re-drafting

Is re-drafting even a word? Well, word or not, that's what I've been doing with my little picture book about an ogress.

The last time you heard about my ogress, she was waiting for me to finish the first draft. I finished the first draft weeks ago, and then set it aside to wait. Again. Then, when I returned home from my recent vacation, I decided it was time to give my ogress some attention.

I began re-drafting the story in rhyme. That's how it had originally started, but I forced myself to write the rest of it in prose so I could get the story straight. I'm so glad I did it that way, because the rhyme, though imperfect so far, has been coming so much more easily than it would have if I had to worry about story and rhyme together.

I can't wait to tell you that this draft is done and ready for revisions!

Read The Life of a Picture Book Part Four: Full Draft