Wednesday, November 4, 2020

From Research to Revision, Ick! Part 8

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 provided an example of how I revised a spread to improve the text scaffolding. You can scroll down and read that post.

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. 

You can see that I kept the first two sentences, but added a new third sentence. It’s more playful, but includes the same idea as the original manuscript. I cut paragraph 3 and tweaked paragraph 4, as shown in red. Sometimes changing just a word or two can make a big difference. In this case, I was able to add a fun sound effect and some alliteration.

Next, I sent the manuscript to my editor, Shelby Lees, and we went through several rounds of revision.


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.

After Veteran’s Day, I’ll conclude this series of posts by discussing the kinds of revisions that happened after I send the manuscript to my editor.

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