Does the following scenario sound familiar? You write a story. You
think, “Wow! This is a fantastic story! I can’t believe my first draft
is this good.” Then you read it again the next day. And think, “Wow.
This story needs help!” Most manuscripts are truly solidified in the
editing process. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you dig into
your manuscript revisions.
My process for revising picture books can
be modified for chapter books, middle grade, and young adult manuscripts
as well. As I dig into revisions, I delve into big picture edits,
smaller picture issues, and a checklist of considerations. First, I contend with big picture issues.
Is the structure of the story sound?
Does it have a strong plot?
A memorable character with hopefully endearing and identifying
Is there a clearly defined story arc with a beginning,
middle and end?
Does the MC have sufficiently challenging and escalating
obstacles to overcome?
Does the MC use his or her own agency to overcome those obstacles?
Is there enough “heart” in the story?
Is the ending satisfying and is there perhaps a nice twist at the end?
Throughout the writing and editing process, I also consider whether the idea is sound and marketable as a children’s book. I also look at smaller picture issues such as: sentence length and structure, grammar, syntax, word choice, wordplay, and figurative language.
Finally, I run through a checklist after all the points above have been visited:
Does the story have a strong opening and ending line? For picture books specifically, does each scene move the story along?
Can the scenes be fully illustrated?
Do the words show and not tell?
Regarding overall word count, is the story within the correct parameters for the genre?
Does the revision require “killing darlings,” meaning cutting words, ideas, scenes, or even characters from the manuscript?
Does the story have a strong hook and can I write a marketable pitch?
Good luck with your process of brainstorming ideas, writing, and revising. Happy creating!