Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Picture Book Hesitancy

After re-writing my way through a couple manuscripts now, I'm finding that the third time is not the charm.

When I sat down to write my first one, I hammered it out in like 30 minutes and figured I rocked that puppy.  Then I started reading this fabulous book "Writing Picture Books" by Ann Whitford Paul.  And with each chapter I re-wrote, re-imagined, and re-focused my manuscript.  Then I went through the whole thing another two times and revamped it each time.  And then I let some folks critique it.  And wrote it again.  And then I finally submitted it.  And now I wait for an editor to hopefully love it enough to send me more revision notes!

My second manuscript is still in the revision process.  And while I haven't had to rewrite it as much as the first, it is still on version 7.0 or something like that. 

So, as I have this fabulous idea in my head for my third manuscript, I'm hesitant to start.  Not because I'm afraid of revision, but I'm clogging my brain so much with what I've learned, I'm having a hard time writing anything.  I would start a sentence and think, "Oh, but I should use stronger words there."  Or, "I shouldn't introduce a character like that."  I finally just made myself sputter the idea out on a page so I have a starting place.  I'm finding that trying to coordinate all of that knowledge about character, form, plot, pacing, word choice, strong beginnings, satisfying endings, showing instead of telling, etc. is just impossible to get down all at once.  Revisions are the key to getting all that in.  Hopefully more than one point can be addressed in each revision, but if not, so be it.  I must be patient with myself as I learn!  My blissful ignorance sure did make that first version of the first manuscript much easier to get down.


  1. I have that experience too - where I can't stop the voice in my head that is telling me my draft sucks as I write it. I should know better by now. Of COURSE it sucks. That's what a first draft is!

    Now you've inspired me to go back and start revising some of those sucky first drafts - lol!

  2. Is the first book a PB? You said you hammered it out in 30 minutes, and I went 0.o

    The second sounds like MG or YA (or any full length novel). I'm going to rewrite my entire YA next year. I'm so tired of making changes in the manuscript, and remember what other changes I need to make because of it, and to develop the main character better here, here, and here. So now that I know the story so well, I'm going to re-plot it, re-evaluate the characters, and rewrite it. I'm going to do things right this time around.

    As for PB's, I've decided to self-publish a series next year! I'm so excited. I'm going to talk to a person I know who's a wonderful artist (and a mom - so she knows what kids like). These will be in Icelandic, and I know they're good enough for the market. I want to publish them myself, because I think I'll make more money that way (things work a little differently here).

  3. Tessa - All PBs. I decided to just do PBs for now because I'm so totally overwhelmed by the learning process for just one genre! : )

    The self-publish idea sounds great! Congratulations and best of luck. I'll be anxious to hear how it goes!

  4. Picture books? That sounds way too hard for me. From what I understand, it's the toughest genre to take up. I'll stick to YA, thank you very much;-)