Wednesday, September 30, 2020

From Research to Revision, Ick! Part 3

On Wednesdays this fall, I’m sharing the process of creating my recently-published book Ick! Delightfully Disgusting Animals Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses step-by-step. (To learn about the whole process in one sitting or to share an age-appropriate version with your students, check out this new resource on my website.)

Last week I discussed gathering information for the book. You can scroll down and read that post. Today, I’ll focus on my next step—making a writing plan.

This step looks different from one book to the next, but the general idea is to figure out as many characteristics of the text as possible. I think about the hook, the writing style, the text structure, the format, and the voice. In most cases, I will have made decisions about some of these elements during the research process, but others may still need careful consideration. It’s better to work them out now—before I start writing.

Because I had so much great information about animals’ disgusting behaviors, I decided to write three 48-page books for middle grade readers—one about disgusting animal dinners, one about disgusting animal dwellings, and one about disgusting animal defenses. All three would have the same design, format, and text characteristics.

To make my plan, I created a quick list of things I already knew about the books I had in mind:

--About accepted knowledge (not a person or process)

--Lots of cool examples

--Gross out factor

Since the books were about accepted knowledge, I knew they would have an expository writing style. 

I also knew the books would have lots of icky examples sandwiched between an introduction and conclusion that explain how the examples are connected, so they should have a list text structure with a one-example-per-spread format. 

For some books, I need to think long and hard about the hook, but in this case, it was built into the concept. The gross-out factor also made it easy to settle on using a lively, playful voice.

With these elements worked out, I had a plan in place.

I’ll talk more about my next step (and how three books turned into one) next week.

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