Before I turn a manuscript into my editor, I usually ask other people to read part or all of it and provide feedback. When I’m writing a picture book, I share it with a critique group that meets twice a month at a library near my house. We sign up for slots a week or two in advance and can submit up to 8 pages at a time.
Since the manuscript for Ick! was more than 100 pages long, it would have taken at least 7 months to share the whole thing with the group, which would mean missing my deadline. So instead, I asked Joannie Duris, a trusted member of the group, to read it over the course of a week and provide suggestions. Luckily, she agreed.
When I sent the manuscript to Joannie, I included a list of things to look for. One of those things was voice. I wanted to make sure that it was strong and consistent throughout the book.
Here are Joannie’s notes on the vampire bat spread:
I was so grateful that she pointed out the lack of voice in the first paragraph.
For this spread, she requested a new beginning. She also thought the final paragraph was a bit over the top, so I toned it down.
Here's the final spread.