Under [Revision->Revision], you’ll find one of my most popular article series: Revision 9-1-1. These articles help pinpoint common things I notice when I look at works for free-tiques. Maybe reading these posts might save you some time, refresh your memory, or make something “click”.
Have a suggestion for an article? Can’t find your answer here? Leave a comment.
I decided to classify this post so it applies to both PBs and longer works. If you’ve been following my Revision 9-1-1 articles, you’ve read a lot about “big” issues which crop up in manuscripts I’ve reviewed. But what’s contained in here is MORE IMPORTANT. Why? If an agent or editor senses you haven’t mastered the basics, your wonderful plot, brilliant characters, and awesome setting won’t matter.
I decided I would not only talk about setting but also description. Or maybe they are one in the same. Some people say setting can be as important as a character in your book. It really depends on the story, but whatever role setting plays in your novel, make sure you’re not making one of these common mistakes.
Here are the typical things I encounter when I review novels, plot-wise.
story starts on page 10. Or 15. or 20.
- this is when I read the first chapter and go – well, that was a great study on character.
Here are the common things I notice when I evaluate picture book manuscripts.
Tuneless picture books
- In my opinion, picture books structure and rhythm, much like a tune. If I can’t hear your song when I’m reading your manuscript, the result is a text which reads like “heavy metal”. Discordant and jumbled. A tuneless picture book may have a beginning that’s too long, a middle that’s too short, and an abrupt ending.
Are you ready for some Revision 9-1-1? The only way to fix a problem is to…
Recognize you suffer from the condition
Identify solutions for recovery
Follow-through with the solutions (this would be some sort of revision–either a cut, add, or change)
What I’ve done here is laid out the most common character issues I’ve seen to date.
Here is where you get to benefit even more from the fruits of my labor. You know all those free-tiques I do? After a while, I notice tendencies among you writers. I’ve seen some of the “issues” enough I’ve given them special names.
The children’s writing community is extremely supportive. There are people out there who will read your work for absolutely nothing (see free-tiques–I am one such crazy person). And there are many more who’ll read your work if you read theirs. This is a very common practice in our children’s writing world. I strongly advocate finding a critique partner or group who can serve as your sounding board as you work on your books.