Revision Check-in on a Picture Book Manuscript

One thing I’m doing this month is finally revisiting about 5 picture book manuscripts that weren’t working for one reason or another. Trying to determine whether to abandon them or try different approaches to new drafts. Thought I’d share the kind of notes I write to myself while I’m working. Here’s what I wrote about one picture book this morning. I blacked out some words, so the story itself is not going to make sense to you, but I’m just trying to show the kind of thinking I do about it.

2/11/17: OK, there’s more than one problem here. What is the conflict?

Is it that Ben doesn’t want to xxxx? Yes. He wants to stay close to Mom, but do all this stuff that xxxxx.

Specific problems:

“Mom was afraid I’d hurt myself.” – This doesn’t work. Needs to be more up front. Mom said I was outgrowing it. Never!

“I helped Mom feel better.” – This doesn’t work. Diffuses the main conflict. The only conflict allowed. Instead, maybe he does those things to butter Mom up so she’ll let him stay.

“I hated to make Mom sad, but I had no choice.” – Doesn’t work. He needs to be focused on his own problem/goal. Not Mom’s. How can I keep the humor but flip this to make it work with his own goal? Somehow, his trying to improve the situation must actually make it worse.

Party ending doesn’t work at all. At all. Ugh. Need a whole new resolution:

Maybe he stores all his supplies (trampoline, nunchucks, roller skates, etc.) in xxxx instead? Mom is long-suffering at the end.

I left all my toys in xxxx, so they could keep Mom company.

Meh. Quick laugh, but not sure it’s really satisfying.

What could be even worse than doing all this stuff xxxx?

What if…

  • he moves too far away?
  • he leaves the XXXX but now XXXX all over Mom?
  • he takes up some new, worse hobby?
  • he realizes how much more room he has and decides to…use his xxxx as a xxxx and xxxxx it? “Timber!”
  • He says, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll still visit xxxx sometimes! “Timber!” – OK, I kind of like that. I’ll give it a try.


About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
This entry was posted in Writing Advice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Revision Check-in on a Picture Book Manuscript

  1. ldk says:

    I love these peeks into your thinking. Thanks, Laura!

  2. Angie says:

    Thanks for the view of your process. It is so important to evaluatve stories that way. I appreciate seeing how you do it. 🙂

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