By Donna Cangelosi
One of the many fantastic workshops I attended at this year's NJSCBWI conference was THE EDITING PROCESS-FOR REAL! with Katie Bignell, Senior Editor, at Scholastic. The session was a gem. Katie showed us the original manuscript of HOW TO BEHAVE AT A DOG SHOW written by Madeline Rosenberg and Illustrated by Heather Ross and took us though the entire editing process, line by line. We then looked at finished samples of the book. The transformation was truly remarkable.
In her discussion, Katie noted that writing picture books requires good problem solving skills. We must find a way to:
Keep the word count low
Show action on each spread
Leave room for the illustrator
Keep the reader engaged
Include fun words and phrases
Build an emotional arc
Build a story arc
Add complications that lead to a strong climax, and
End with a fun twist!
This list can be daunting, especially when you have to accomplish all of this in less than 500 words. But the reward will be worth it.
The Takeaway: If you need encouragement, look at a finished picture book that you love and remember, that author had to edit too!
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.