Revise the Picture Book Text

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You’ve made some major changes in your text, but it’s time for micro-changes.

Examples of microcuts and microchanges

Micro-cuts

Once you’re happy with your text, go back and edit out another 100 words. Again, it’s an arbitrary number, but it works so well. Think of this as a poem, which is the tightest writing possible. Nothing extra, but nothing left out. See here for more on micro-cuts.

  • Instead of a prepositional phrase, use an adjective: While you’re at it, replace to be verbs with stronger verbs.
    The tree with the apples was big/The apple tree loomed.
  • Unless it’s part of the voice, cut out introductory words. While you’re at it, sharpen details. While you’re at it, replace to be verbs with stronger verbs.
    Well, it was a nice day/The sun gleamed.
  • Replace weak nouns with specific nouns. While you’re at it, replace “to be” verbs with stronger verbs.
    The dog barked/The poodle yapped.

    PASTICHE OR BORROWING FROM OTHERS

    Look around for picture books you admire. When you find one, rewrite your story in the same voice and style as the admired book. Do at least once, but repeat as many times as you can.
    Some things you might learn:

    • Your voice is bland, or excitable, or unique.
    • The story changes because of a different voice/style.
    • The appropriate age of the reader changes as the voice/style change.
    • Your default style has too much (adjectives, to be verbs, visual description, etc.)

    ADD WORD PLAY

    Read Alexis O’Neill’s book, The Recess Queen. It’s a great example of playing with language. It turns a didactic story about bullies into a piece of literature that I’d read to anyone. In fact, when my college freshman students had to write an essay about bullies, I read it to them.

    ACTION POINTS

    Revise! This is where the fun comes in, so revise and revise and revise.

    Find this Helpful? Read the Complete Series as an Ebook:

    How to Write a Children’s Picture Book Available Now!

    The 30 Days to a Stronger Picture Book series has been collected into a Fiction Notes Ebook.

    How to Write a Children's Picture Book by Darcy Pattison

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