The picture book I’m working on has had three major revisions.
What to Keep
When I realize a story needs a major overhaul, I try to figure out what I want to keep. In this case, I loved the setting and the language evoked in that setting.
My friend has been taking the position that good stories begin with character. Well, for him, they do. I can’t see him doing it any differently. But for me, especially for picture books, it’s the language play that starts the story and keeps my interest going.
Others may start with a voice, or a situation (as in my current WIP novel), or an event. The key is to figure out what you must keep in the story to maintain your own interest and excitement.
Everything Else is Up for Auction
I have a couple good names I could auction off, if anyone is buying. Any bids?
The characters in the first draft of the picture book were wonderful, IMHO. I loved the names, I loved the playfulness of their personalities. But they just didn’t have a story to tell. Or not one that was coherent enough to hang together.
The first draft had the main character as a girl trying to help her grandfather work through a problem. Not child centered enough.
The second revision had the main character as a kid learning to do some difficult skills. More child centered – more appropriate for the audience – but I knew I was doomed when several critiquers said they couldn’t figure out the age of the character.
Third and current draft of this children’s picture book puts a child as the main character, solving a child-sized problem.
Audience. You must keep the audience of your novel or picture book or story firmly in mind (she tells herself!). The problem was to FIND that child-centered problem within the setting or milieu that fascinated me. Once I did that, it was easy. All it took was about 20 drafts or so.