By Donna Cangelosi
We've all been there- cleaning a closet, play room or dreaded basement. We look at the bins and bags, shut the door, and run away! "Next week," we tell ourselves. "Or next month," or better yet, "next year!" For me, "next year" comes every summer. My most recent project... my office closet. A storehouse of every toy and art material a child therapist or child could dream of. Some with a great deal of purpose. Some with none. But I love all of them. Where do I begin?
With the mantra "Keep, Donate, Throw Away," I proceed with determination and make three piles. Several hours later, voila! A beautiful, organized closet. Admiring my accomplishment, it occurred to me that this mantra can work when revising picture books.
KEEP-The words and lines of our stories that engage the reader, develop characters, add heart and humor, move the story forward, enrich the arc, and make the picture book one that children will read over and over.
DONATE- The clever, beautiful words and phrases that we just can't throw away. Put them in their own special file or notebook and use them for another story.
THROW OUT- Extra words, adverbs, and descriptive lines that take away from the illustrator. Cut anything that makes the story drag on. Remember, kids love action and excitement.
THE TAKEAWAY- When revising manuscripts, remember the mantra, "Keep, Donate, Throw Away." And don't forget to leave a bag of opportunities for the illustrator. Please share your ideas for revising picture books.
Donna Cangelosi and Chana Stiefel are picture book critique partners & friends who are passionate about kids' books & are eager to share tidbits from their writing journey with other aspiring writers.