Author Linda Ashman led the picture book workshops. I love reading her books. Her new one No Dogs Allowed! illustrated by Kristin Sorra released on Aug. 2. On Ashman's site, she has a post about how she wrote the nearly-wordless picture book and you can download her manuscript. Very helpful.
Since I didn't know what I was doing before the retreat, I decided to invest in a post-retreat critique.
I applied Ashman's tips and techniques from the retreat classes to my manuscript before I submitted it for critique.
- I wrote it from a different point of view. My third person turned into first person, but I didn't like the feel of the story.
- I rewrote it in prose, not rhyme. It's been decades since I studied meter. So, I checked out several books on writing poetry from the library. I'm studying them in baby steps. I didn't like the story in prose, so I returned to rhyme.
- I removed some repeating phrases. I added them in again. Then, deleted them.
During the retreat, participants broke into small groups. I received lots of feedback from my group. In general, members liked my story idea, but not the execution — bad rhyme.
Ashman is a super rhymer. She addressed some crimes of rhyme at the retreat. I am guilty, guilty, guilty. Thankfully, no one will put me in jail for bad rhyme. No one will want to read my story either, so I recognize I have a problem and am working to address it.
I lost track of the number of revisions I did post-retreat. I asked my nine-year-old niece to be a beta reader. When I asked a specific question, there was a pause. She decided to regroup and read it again. More feedback followed.
The book editor's critique will arrive in about a month. In the meantime, I've worked on a first draft of another picture book idea. This one — written in prose and first person. Plus, I'll attend a local SCBWI chapter meeting and critique group.
I still don't know completely what I'm doing, but I am studying, reading and trying.
How do you revise your work?