Week of June 26—Reflections from SCBWI, Orlando
Wednesday, June 29—Revising Like a Writer—According to Lisa
I love to revise, so I when I learned that Lisa and Alexandra were including a revision session in the Picture Book Intensive, I was excited. And then when the two of them approached the subject from their own points of view—an author and an editor—I knew it was going to be a great session.
Picture book writers entertain children and parents
without leaving either behind. –Lisa Wheeler
THINGS TO REVISE OUT OF YOUR WRITING—ACCORDING TO LISA
Any unintentional redundancies need to be revised out of your writing.
2. Obstacles to Forward Movement
Cut everything that does not move the story forward.
3. Unnecessary Description
If you have exposition that can be illustrated, take it out. Make sure every detail is necessary and that you are showing, not telling. Be sure to read your story aloud to hear if it flows smoothly, or if it is slowed down by descriptions.
4. Too Many Stage Directions
The reader does not need to spend every moment with the character. We only need to include the details and directions that move the character forward. Remember, page turns are scene separators, time devices, and people movers. (In other words, page turns can serve as transitions.)
5. Too Many Names to Keep Track Of
Only give names to important players in the story. Characters must earn their names. Be carefully with alliterated names, they can cause confusion. We learned one of Lisa’s pet peeves—Ridiculous names not found in nature. Fun is fine, ridiculous is ridiculous!
6. Unnecessary Dialogue
Dialogue should sound authentic. Even in rhyming pieces, the dialogue must be natural. Don’t use dialogue to give information the reader already has, to slow down the action, or to slow down the reaction. Keep dialogue short and sweet. Also avoid going overboard with accents and colloquialisms in dialogue. (A little goes a long way.)
7. Show vs. Tell
Don’t try to tell and explain to the reader. Instead, put the reader in the moment. The reader wants to fell and experience—not be told.
8. Red Herrings
Everything in your story must be relevant and move the story forward.
9. Weak Verbs
Use vivid verbs (and strong nouns), take out or replace weak words.
10. Choose the Best Tag Lines
11. Beware of Author Intrusion.
Author intrusion is when you interrupt the story to ask the reader a question or to talk to the reader. For instance: I don’t like the dark. Do you? Author intrusions breaks through the wall between the author and reader and interrupt the flow of the story.
THINGS TO REVISE INTO YOUR WRITING—ACCORDING TO LISA
1.The Rule of Threes
In the big picture of your manuscript, the rule of three refers to the three scenes/three attempts that are often used to solve a problem in a picture book. In the smaller scheme of things, repeating lines three times, trios of sounds, etc. can emphasize the rule of three. (Per Lisa: Sometimes you need more than three, and seven is also a magic number.)
2. Word Play
Picture books are all about the words, so add alliteration, onomatopoeias, internal rhymes, puns, and other forms of word play.
3. Frame the Story
Use something at the beginning of the story and something at the end of the story to frame it or give it book ends.
It’s Your Turn!
1. Lisa shared an approach to use to know what to do following rejection letters.
Step 1: If you get three rejection letters on the same piece, it’s time to revise again.
Step 2: After revising, send the piece out again.
Step 3: If you receive three more rejections on the piece, put it aside for awhile and move on to another piece.