Before I get started with this post, I want to announce my new professional picture book manuscript critique service. For more information on what I offer click here. January 12-18, 2014, Meg Miller will be presenting ReviMo – Revise More Picture Books Week. She has interviewed me for one of her ReviMo posts. One of her interview questions was, “What is your revision process.” I decided to post a list of some things I take into consideration when writing and revising picture books. The list is similar to what I look for when I critique other people’s work. I hope it is helpful.
THINGS I NATURALLY NOTICE WHEN POLISHING MY WORK
Does it read smoothly or do I trip up a lot as I read?
Does it make me feel emotion?
Do I find myself smiling or chuckling?
Do I feel anxious, excited or sad for the main character?
Do I find myself cheering for the main character?
Does it have a satisfying ending?
Is the opening line or paragraph strong?
Will it grab the reader’s attention immediately?
Will it make readers want to learn more or continue reading?
Does the setup and description go on forever? Or do the first couple of spreads reveal what the story is “really” about?
Will the reader have a good sense of the main character and his desire or problem by the third spread?
Does the text move the main character and story forward through his attempts to get what he wants?
As the main character moves forward, does he attempt and fail to achieve his goal?
Do his attempts and failures increase the story tension and make me want to turn pages?
Will readers feel like they are in the story, experiencing what the main character is experiencing?
Is there cause and effect throughout the story, connecting the dots from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, scene to scene?
Are there too many obstacles?
Too few obstacles?
Do the steps that the main character take make sense?
CLIMAX AND RESOLUTION
Is there a strong story arc that builds to a turning point or climax?
Does the main character experience a darkest moment that leads him to resolution?
Does the resolution come just a page or two before the ending?
Is the ending connected to the rest of the story and satisfying?
Does it offer a twist?
A nice tie in to the beginning?
A moment of realization or satisfaction that the main character has grown, learned something, or reached his goal?
LINE BY LINE QUESTIONS
Do all the story dots seem connected?
Is time and place clear throughout?
Is tense consistent?
Is point of view consistent?
Are there awkward, clumsy, or wordy sentences?
Are there any missing or confusing transitions between scenes?
Is there too much telling and not enough showing?
Is there too much dialogue and not enough action?
Are there places where the text is doing the illustrators job?
Do all passages create visions or move the story forward in some way?
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