ReviMo Day 1 - Interview with Deborah Underwood

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Welcome welcome, Day 1 of ReviMo is finally here. HOORAY! I'm so pleased to announce our first guest, Deborah Underwood. Welcome Deborah!



Can you give us a little background about yourself?

Sure! I grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, got a degree in philosophy from Pomona College (to the despair of the Philosophy Department, I suspect), moved to San Francisco, became a street musician, then worked as an administrative assistant until the year 2000.

Along the way, I tried various kinds of writing--everything from magazine articles to puzzles to screenplays to greeting cards. It finally dawned on me that since kids' books are the books I love best, maybe that's what I should be writing. (Another hint was the presence of a Paddington Bear tape in my tape deck, especially combined with the fact that I don't have kids.) So in 2001, after my corporate job conveniently disappeared, I started writing for children in earnest.

How do you determine if a story idea is worth pursuing/revising?

Ooh, that's a good question! Often I just thumb through my idea file and see what grabs me. But then I usually do some legwork. Sometimes I'll run an idea by my agent to see what she thinks. I'll search online to see if similar books come up. And I might ask a librarian pal or critique friends whether the idea seems fresh to them.

But mostly I pursue an idea if excites me; in the long run, that's what matters. 



What's a revision tip that you've found really helpful?

One picture book tip that I often share when I'm teaching a workshop: try to cut out half the words. Just try! You may end up adding back some words, but you almost certainly will find things you realize you don't need after all.

What makes a publishable manuscript?

Hm. That's a tricky question, because one editor might find a manuscript unpublishable, but the next editor might love it. There's an element--a BIG element--of personal preference, and that's something we don't have much control over (although by attending conferences and/or having a knowledgable agent, we might learn that Editor A loves cow stories, or that Editor B is dying to acquire a story about a tractor).

What we DO have control over is whether we're submitting the very best manuscripts we can--making sure we've gotten input from trusted writing friends and polished, polished, polished. Focusing on that feels more helpful to me than getting too caught up in the publishable/not publishable question.

Frankly, some ideas that grab me don't seem remotely publishable. Writing a book called THE QUIET BOOK when zillions of manuscripts are rejected for being too quiet? Insane! Writing a manuscript like HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT! that is so illustration-dependent that your agent submits your dummy to editors even though you're not an illustrator? Crazy! If I'd been trying to write only what I thought would be publishable, I might never have developed those ideas.

Any other thoughts for fellow picture book writers?

Be patient--with the industry and with yourself. Try to keep your focus on the one thing you have total control over: your current manuscript. Pay attention to what helps YOU in the creative process, and know that it may be different from what helps anyone else. Be kind to yourself.

And hang in there! I got my first "good" rejection letter from an editor a year or two after I started writing. The editor suggested I try her again, and I did--several times--over the next five years. And in 2008, she acquired THE QUIET BOOK. I am glad I kept trying!

Me too, it's a lovely story with adorable illustrations. Thank you Deborah!


 


  
 







Deborah Underwood's books include The Quiet Book, The Loud Book, The Christmas Quiet BookPirate MomA Balloon for Isabel, Part-time Princess, and the forthcoming Here Comes the Easter Cat! and Bad Bye, Good Bye. She has written 27 nonfiction books for the children's educational market. Her magazine credits include National Geographic Kids, Highlights, Ladybug, and Spider. Please visit her online: DeborahUnderwoodBooks.com.


To enter giveaway:
  1. Scroll down to the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post.
  2. Under the prize listings, click on the “Revised PB MS Today & Commented on Today's Post” button. If you have revised a PB manuscript and commented on today's post, click ENTER. Remember you are on the honor system! 
Each day you revise and comment (Jan. 12-18th) you can enter for chances to win. The winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter January 19th. There will be a final giveaway January 19th for those of you who revise 5+ days! Good luck everyone!

151 comments :

Rena Traxel Boudreau said...

It's about 4am here and I'm up. Apparently I'm excited to get started!

Lori Mozdzierz said...

Enjoyed the post. Love your books, Deborah!

Sue Poduska said...

Thanks for sharing, Deborah. Love it!

Cecilia Clark said...

Dear Deborah Underwood, thank you for your post. I was very pleased to read about your illustration driven story as I have one of my own and feel more hopeful it will go somewhere. More revising to come.

Lisa Connors said...

Deborah, you make it seem so easy, though I know it is a lot of hard work. And work, you have inspired in me since I attended the conference you taught. Thanks!

Tia S. said...

What a treat! We love The Quiet Book at our house! I am always inspired by hard work, hard work and more hard work blog posts from talented authors. I love your comments under the Any other thoughts for fellow picture book writers? question. So, so true! I will keep on writing/editing/revising with a smile:-)

Marcie Colleen said...

Can't wait to get my hands on THE EASTER CAT. Thanks for the tips, Deborah.

saputnam said...

Great post, Deborah! I especially connected with your advice to BE PATIENT. I have been writing and revising for over 10 years and have amassed a large portfolio of submission worthy manuscripts. Thanks to a kick in the pants by 12 x 12, I began submitting in February. I can’t wait for your book, Here Comes the Easter Cat to come out.

Day 1 – Woke up early this morning in " Revision Mode" and have revised 2 manuscripts…one a rough draft from PiBoIdMo and an older one that I’m planning on sending out to agents this week

MegMillerWrites said...

Go Sharon go! :D

I can't wait for Easter Cat either, too cute!

MegMillerWrites said...

Me either, so adorable! Happy revising! :D

MegMillerWrites said...

Me too Tia, Deborah makes some excellent points! Happy revising! :D

MegMillerWrites said...

She's inspired me as well. What an amazing weekend we had! :D

MegMillerWrites said...

Yay! Happy revising Cecilia! :D

MegMillerWrites said...

Isn't she awesome? :D Happy revising Sue!

MegMillerWrites said...

She makes some excellent points doesn't she? Happy Revising Lori! :D

Wendy Greenley said...

This post + a steamy shower = one revision! Deborah's tltle Bad Bye, Good Bye has me intrigued and I will be on the lookout. Patience has never been my strong suit but I am trying!

MegMillerWrites said...

Yay Rena, first comment! Happy revising!!! :D

Cheryl Secomb said...

Thank you, Deborah and Meg! What an encouraging post. I really like the suggestion to focus on the current manuscript. Today I cut down a 1300 word story to 500 words. Woo hoo! I'm loving ReviMo!

Julie Rowan-Zoch said...

Thanks for sharing your earlier woes, Deborah. I don't know quite why, but in commiseration we do find strength to keep on keeping on! I find I often whittle down my mss too much and have to scramble to save the structure, but today I'll take on my thickest with your advice! Thanks for organizing a great interview today, Meg!

Michelle Lynn Senters said...

Good morning! Thank you for the encouragement, especially the suggestion to write what comes to you and not what is deemed as currently punishable. Write what we love. That's what I believe.

Marcy Pusey said...

I LOVE your comments on whether something is publishable or not... it's SO true. Some unpublishable books get published... and many publishable books don't. So do we quite writing? Quit submitting? NO! We keep at it. Thanks for that reminder, we need it always. (Including the piece about making sure it's the best it can be, whatever category it falls into :)

Marcie F Atkins said...

Wow! Cutting half of a 300 word PB is hard. Wasn't able to do it, but I did question every single word. Thanks for that all of your insights!!!

Jackie Wellington said...

It is glad to know that there is a thin line between what is considered "publishable" and "unpublishable". And I am glad to know that it is based on personal preference. I needed to hear that. So I am off to write my Newberry Award winner for 2016. Go me!

Jen Swanson said...

Very interesting post! Good to know that we should never give up! Thanks for the ideas. Got my pb down by 1/3. Not bad. Will still work to keep getting it smaller.

Michele Norman said...

Cutting in half is somehow more approachable to me than dissecting and rebuilding. While I consumed a pot of coffee this morning, it has consumed me.

Mette Engell said...

"Be patient and keep focused" - something I sometimes tend to forget - thanks for reminding me, Deborah - and Thanks, Meg for setting all this up.

Jennifer Kirkeby said...

What a wonderful journey you've had, Deborah. Thank you for your great tips! Cutting my manuscript was tricky, but it really helped to discover what words need to stay. Thank you!

Pat Miller said...

Your title mash-ups inspired me! Pirate Mom, Here Comes Easter Cat, Bad Bye, Good Bye. Hmmmm...I'm going to create some funny combos and see if magic happens for me! Thanks, Deborah!

Suzy Levinson said...

Great post!

Elaine Kearns said...

Mash up magic! Perfect! Thanks, Deborah and Meg!

Cecilia McCarthy said...

Looking forward to moving some manuscripts forward in 2014! Thanks for the great tips.

Sherry Wagner Hudson said...

Thank you for the wonderful tips. Writers face many obstacles and it's important to not let that stop you from writing. Critiques and rejections are tough, but remembering why you are writing and what you want to accomplish can overcome them. " )

Nina said...

I did a lot, lot, lot of revising in my head before going to paper. I am working on revising 2 ms and both are short. So getting rid of half of the words failed for me. However, I can see where that might work very well for another ms that I had done a while ago. Thanks for the insight, Deborah.
Oh by the way, Walla Walla is a place that all creative people should come from in some way shape or form. The name screams weirdness and creativity.

Krista Mcmorran-Maus said...

Thank you for sharing, Deborah. I like what you said about writing what grabs you and not worrying whether it is publishable.

Donna L Sadd said...

It's posts like this that never fail to find me picking myself up and dusting myself off to keep going! Cut a bunch of unnecessary words too! Thank you, Deborah and Meg!

Kathy said...

Cutting those unnecessary words is difficult. Trying not to worry about what is publishable is also important. I am going to work on that:)

Beth Halleran said...

It's so wonderful to hear from established authors - the hurdles, the concerns, the technical advice - - thanks so much for this post!

Danielle Dufayet said...

Thank you for sharing your journey to success. It's always good to be reminded to be patient. Wishing you continued success!!!

Juliana Lee said...

I love the idea of a 'good' rejection letter! So I guess I'll keep writing and revising until I get my first good rejection letter and my better than good acceptance letter!

Linda Schueler said...

It was great to read that you don't only pursue ideas that you think are publishable.

Katie Gast said...

I just finished hacking half the words out of my picture book. Most of them were descriptive and now there will be more room for the illustrator to work. Great idea.

Katie Gast said...

I just finished hacking half the words out of my picture book. Most of them were descriptive and now there will be more room for the illustrator to work. Great idea

Kirsti Call said...

Thanks for the great post, I always love to learn about other writers...I love that you work on what excites you whether it's publishable or not. My kids and I love your books, Deborah!

Debbie said...

Thanks, Deborah, for your encouraging words. I am especially encouraged by your advice to focus on what we can control -- our manuscripts. And thank you also for encouraging us to work on the ideas that grab us. I'm off to work on that story I gave up on because I thought it wasn't marketable. But it just won't let go of me. Thanks!

Carissa Phillips said...

Great post! Thank you so much for sharing!

Joanne Sher said...

Oh - I'm gonna giv that cuttting half thing a try on the VERY FIRST picture book I ever tried. Great post - and a super focus for me for this week!

Will be back to enter the rafflecopter once I'm done :D

Charlotte Dixon said...

I thank you for your encouragement and great tips. I am working to cut my word count. As you suggested, I am going to focus on my ms and my creative process.

Shannon Baunach Anderson said...

I remember when Mira Reisberg did a Skype critique with me and did a similar cutting exercise with me. I was almost in tears seeing how much she wanted me to cut. It was an eye opening experience and definitely improved the story. Being wordy comes naturally to writers, but being authors, we have to learn to be creative in how we can say more with less. I am hacking away at my current favorite manuscript. I have already cut 50 words. Sniff, sniff...

Lisa Rivard said...

Thank you so much Deborah (and Meg)! One of the many things you taught me in PA at Highlights Workshop was to cut in half! It is challenging but gives clarity. I cut in half today (well almost in half) so that I can take a piece to critique group tomorrow. Thank you!

MegMillerWrites said...

Yay Lisa!! So glad you are revising with us friend! :D We had a wonderful Highlights experience. Highly recommend to anyone!

MegMillerWrites said...

Good luck Stephan! Check out Ame Dyckman's post on Marcie Colleen's blog: http://writeroutine.blogspot.com/2012/10/wriwopi-ame-dyckman-and-bot-astic-give.html She's got a great suggestion for cutting words. :D

MegMillerWrites said...

Yay everyone!!! SO proud of you all for dusting off old manuscripts and doing some tough revisions! Keep kicking revision booty this week!!!!!!!

mona said...

Today's been a good day, writing and hacking.
Thank you.

Kristine P said...

Wow - love the advice about not letting your concept of what the publishing world wants limit you!

Ronna Mandel said...

I love that you're doing this because revising is SO very difficult for me. I just wonder how I can cut out words with a rhyming ms.? I definitely agree about being kind to myself because I am my own worst critic. On my left shoulder is the nasty, "go get a day job" negative critic and on my right shoulder is the "you've got some funny ideas. Go for it!" positive critic. Today I'm listening to my right shoulder. A little massage would be nice, too! THANKS!

animalauthor said...

Hi, Deb! I've sliced and diced all of my book mss--sometimes it's a painful amputation, but easier to cut words than to add.

Stephan St├╝cklin-Wightman said...

Thanks, Meg! Ame's suggestion might just work, because my PB is set in a museum in Paris - and you can imagine the temptation to over-describe... Today's tally: from 1039 to 756, roughly a quarter.

Lauren Soloy said...

Thanks for this post - I love Deborah's work, and found her very inspiring.

Carrie Charley Brown said...

Deborah, I love your idea about not focusing on whether a manuscript is publishable or not. This business is so subjective. I will focus on polishing... thanks for the pep talk!

Cathy Mealey said...

Marvelous! Got my MS back from RYS this morning and was able to jump right in to revise using Deborah's wonderful advice!

Debbie said...

Great post!

Judy Rubin said...

Today is the perfect time to resurrect Day of the Dead. Thank you for your insight.

pennyklostermann said...

Thanks, Deborah. Done with my revision! Made some nice progress by cutting (not 50%, but I let go of some chunks!)

Stacey Byer said...

A great start off post. It has provided the much needed zing I was waiting for. Thank you Meg and Deborah!

Tamara said...

I have no idea why I'd never thought to show my story to a librarian! Such a simple but great idea. The ones I know are wonders of literature. Thank you!

Yvonne Mes said...

I am so glad to see that persistence pays off! Thanks for your revision tips.

Kirsten Larson said...

Cut the word count in half. That may be the single best piece of advice I've received in a while. I'm working on a historical PB revision today, and I feel like the original draft was just plodding along. But, cutting the word count in half, now there's a way to make things move along more quickly.

Hannah Holt said...

I trimmed over 30% off my manuscript today. I'll take another pass later and see if I can find more to trim. It was liberating. So many empty words bit the dust. Thanks for the motivation to make it happen!

Vivian Kirkfield said...

Yes! Rate Your Story suggested I cut at least 200 words from a 984 word picture book manuscript...so I worked on that one...I've already taken out 350...and will continue until there are under 500 words.:) Thank you, Deborah...it was especially helpful to hear your story about persistence...I believe that is one of the key factors in success!

This is very exciting, Meg! You've put together a winning challenge with AWESOME prizes! Thank you!

Christine Irvin said...

Thanks, Deborah!

Dawn Young said...

Thank you Deborah for an inspirational post. I love The Christmas Quiet Book, it's fabulous!

Julene Kinser said...

Oops! started a ms with a big section of telling. One fell swoop and it's gone. How freeing--now even I am more interested in this story! Thanks, Deborah. Thanks, Meg.

shiela f said...

I enjoyed this post. I like the encouragement concerning the amount of time that lapsed before Deborah signed with her agent. The most important thing I got from this post, is that the only thing I can control is my manuscript. Thank you.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Well, I ended up cutting when I didn't think I could possibly cut another word. And I like it so much better. Yay, me! (And yay, Deborah! Thanks for the encouragement and advice!)

Suzy said...

A great, new beginning. Thank you for the inspiration.

Laurie J. Edwards said...

Great idea, Deborah! Wish I could carry my novels around in my pocket too! Maybe I can do a few pages at a time.

Sue Heavenrich said...

thanks, Deborah - esp. for the inspiration to write stuff that might not be considered "publishable" but really speaks to our heart.

Heather Gale said...

The quiet book. = my most fav illustrator :)
Thank you for sharing this with us. I agree we need to write about what brings passion

Damon Dean said...

Wow! What a great start for this week, pointing right to the 'desire' and 'want-to' that powers the revision machine. Hope always perks up when an author shares the time it took to 'get there.' Thanks Deborah for your encouragement and the great kick-off to this event.

Dani Duck said...

I think this is perfect for me. I know that I need to cut my manuscripts a lot more. I really liked the encouragement of this post. I can't wait to see more posts this week!

Teresa Robeson said...

I love the name Walla Walla…always makes me think of onions. How cool that Deborah is from there! Cutting 1/2 the words is an excellent suggestion. I tend to be overly verbose when I write. :)


Sweated through one revision. It's always three times as hard as I think it would be. :P

Natasha said...

Cutting the words in half is a challenge but I am approaching it like a game.

Robin Shephard Howard said...

Yay for more encouragement and inspiration. Deborah - you rock!

Heather Greene said...

Great post! Love ReviMo...got my butt back in the chair today. Thanks!

Tracy Molitors said...

Thanks, Deborah. I like the positive notion of focusing on the things that excite you!

Carrie Finison said...

Cut the words in half - wow! I'm going to try that one for sure. It's hard for me not to get "stuck" on my precious words. But I love the advice that they can always be put back in. :-)

Melanie Ellsworth said...

Thank you, Deborah! I love the encouragement to work on an idea that really grabs us without focusing so much on whether it's publishable. Your tip to cut out half the words is also useful. I recently got a critique back with words cut out that I didn't think I could spare, and I realized how much better it was without them. Now I'll keep my eyes peeled for those stowaway words.

MegMillerWrites said...

Exactly! You don't have to keep it, but it certainly puts fresh eyes on your story. :D Happy revising!

MegMillerWrites said...

She's awesome, isn't she? Perfect post. :)

MegMillerWrites said...

Yay Heather! Glad you got the ReviMo revision mojo I sent over! :D

MegMillerWrites said...

She does rock, doesn't she??? Awesome lady.

Damon Dean said...

AND got my revision done...an old old story from 2011. I had cut it some already but managed to cut only 60 words more, but BOY how much more clear it is now. I'm excited about it.

MegMillerWrites said...

Excellent idea Natasha! :D

MegMillerWrites said...

It's an awesome name isn't it? Perfect start for a picture book writer. :D

I'd say happy revising, but it doesn't sound so happy. LOL! Hopefully you were happy afterwards? :D

MegMillerWrites said...

Yay Dani!!! Isn't Deborah amazing? Happy revising!!!!

MegMillerWrites said...

Agreed Damon! Deborah hits on some excellent points. Hope it fired up some revision mojo for you!! :D

MegMillerWrites said...

Oh man, aren't the illustrations the cutest???? If I ever get published I can only hope the illos for my book are so cute!!

Debra Shumaker said...

Love this advice! It was a huge leap of faith, but I chopped out about 3/4 of my manuscript and am rebuilding from the ground up!

MegMillerWrites said...

Wow, wow, wow!!! So proud of all you revising machines!!! You guys ROCK! And Deborah also ROCKS! Happy Day 1, everyone!!!

Kim Pfennigwerth said...

What a fabulous start! Wonderful advice as I sit deleting, adding, deleting, deleting pulling my hair out um...yes,revising :)

Janelle said...

Thanks! I love your books! :) cutting words is soooo hard! :)

Lauri Meyers said...

I love the advice of focusing on the one thing you can control (your writing) in an industry where so much is out of your control. Thanks Deborah!

Noel said...

I am working on finding the right words. That seems to be one of the most important parts. Thank you to such a very supportive writing community!

Angela Turner said...

Okay so I took my ms, one I have been working on for quite a while. I have edited and cut down before. I thought it was pretty good. I thought there really can't be much more to cut. Wow. When I really analyzed each line and asked myself "is it really necessary, is it really helping the story along", I found quite a bit more to rip out and it really has made the story better, tighter, and clearer. Can't wait to work on some of my other stories.

Julie Segal Walters said...

At first, I guffawed. The WIP I revised today is only 282 words in the first place. But, I tried it. Then I put some words back. Now it's 256 and flows much better. Thank you!

deborahhwilliams said...

I thought I commented somewhere but I don't see it--I'll get the hang of this, I promise! Anyway I think we also have control over how often we submit. The more we submit, the more chances we have for a sale!

Michelle Lynn Senters said...

Thank you for the encouragement today. The largest revision I made today was to SCRAP old revisions borne of many, many critiques and return to an earlier draft. I love that draft. It is full of voice and doesn't gloss over stuff. It get's into it. Now, I am revising THAT draft. Thank you! Can't wait until tomorrow.

Denise M. Bruce said...

I love Deborah's tip of cutting half the words... but soooo hard! lol I tried tonight on an old story, but couldn't do it. I fixed some spots and found I really liked the story. So glad I'm in with you all :)

Cindy Williams Schrauben said...

Revised, revised, revised so much that I'm not sure I still have the same story, but it's definitely better! Thanks for the inspiration, Deborah. It's nice to hear published authors recognize the path they traveled. Thanks for the inspiration.

Julie Beturne said...

I have been wanting to get back into writing for quite some time and needed a little jump start. I loved the idea of trying to shorten a picture book. I couldn't cut my piece in half, but I did cut out quite a few words that didn't move the story. This made it more of a show not tell book. Thanks!

Charlotte Gunnufson said...

I really needed to hear about not worrying so much whether an idea is "publishable." It can squelch creativity. And I really needed ReviMo. It has made me stack up all the mss that need work--some of which have already been critiqued--and get to work!

Suzy Mandel said...

Thanks. Nice interview.

Laura Renauld said...

Cutting words is a great suggestion. I'll try it when I develop a new draft. My revision work is taking me back to the drawing board with a story for which I like the idea and the character, but the story development needs some serious work. Today: brainstorming plot!

Stacey said...

It seems very freeing to just focus on what I *can* control! Thank you for the encouragement.

Janie Reinart said...

Thank you, Deborah. I liked your comments about being persistent, believing in your story, and cutting your ms to the bone . Thanks Meg for all the effort!

Margaret Greanias said...

Thanks for the inspiration! I love this advice. I'm glad I'm getting around to revising old MSS!

Jacque Duffy said...

I love a 'good' rejection letter. Thanks for the inspiration... now to cut out 1/2 my words.

Sandy P said...

Great advice about persisting and writing what you like instead of what's publishable. I didn't worry so much about cutting today as I did framing my story in a different way. I have a great idea for one book, but can't figure out the best way or place to start it. Perhaps I'll try it several different ways - with different points of view, tones, etc. throughout the week in addition to other stories. Thank you!

Ramona said...

Great advice about what we do have control over - very true! Thanks for sharing your great advice!

Sherry Walz said...

Thanks for the advice and inspiration. I had fun with a manuscript that hasn't seen the light of day for a very long time.

Pamela Courtney said...

I've always said that I write the way that I talk. I talk A LOT! Cutting out what I finally came to realize as unnecessary words was really liberating. I left those words in another file however. Maybe those words can be used recycled. Anyhoo, thanks for a great post. Wonderful advice.

Nicole Snitselaar said...

I'm a bit mixed up here... must find my marks !
Years ago I wrote (in french) about the easter hedgehog... It's perhaps a sign to pull it out of that draw ! (I think it was 22 years ago !)
I just haf the first mail to remind me of ReviMo... just perfect because I sent to my publisher some work I did for 3 month and now I feel lost and akward... Difficult to let go of a subject that was part of you every single day !

Tracey Jackson said...

Thank you! Cutting that many words brought forth some interesting results :)

Carol Peterson said...

Loved seeing you here, Deborah! Great advice.

pathaap said...

Great post, Deborah - thanks for sharing!

Rachel Stones said...

Just reserved your books at my library & I'm excited to read them!

Peggy Archer said...

Thanks for a great post, Deborah! I had a pb manuscript that was rejected more than once with the comment 'it's too sweet.' Finally accepted, my editor said she loved it, adding "It's so sweet!"

Deborah Underwood said...

Ha! And congrats! Maybe you should write "The Sweet Book." :)

Deborah Underwood said...

Thanks, Rachel! Hope you like them!

Deborah Underwood said...

Thanks to everyone for your kind words about the post and my books. I'm so impressed by all the work (and word-chopping!) you're doing! And thanks again to Meg for hosting me!

Peggy Archer said...

Hmm... that's a thought :)

Mike Karg said...

Thanks, Deborah! This does help. In my first PB drafts, I try to be concise but also try to put everything in, and cutting out half (well, close to half) is necessary. A lot of it is really just scaffolding -those words served their purpose, but now they must be put away.

Carol Breedlove said...

"Cut the words in half" - thank you! I will do my best, even if this is painful! ;-)

B Baird said...

My manuscript was well over a thousand words. How could I cut any? But I took your advice to heart and started over - and now I am down to 600. I still have a ways to go but the real story is starting to emerge. I was just afraid to begin. Thank you.

Priya said...

thank you for reminding us to stay true to our story

kathyberman said...

Thanks for the tips. I did have a hard time trimming one of my manuscripts today. But I finally managed to shed 300 words.

Natalie said...

Cutting so so hard but I'm definitely trying. <- I even cut this comment from it's original...

Laurie B. said...

Thanks, Deborah. I also gravitated towards the children's book section in the library while working on my graduate degree in something totally unrelated. And I went through several careers before realizing I needed to follow my dream. I wouldn't say it was wasted, though. We all need life experience to add more depth to what we write.

Kim Mounsey said...

Thanks for your tips. I was surprised by how many words I cut from a MS I thought I had already removed the superfluous words from...

Ann Magee said...

I do so like cutting during revision--it feels very freeing in a way. You'd think from this statement that I must be the kind of person who weeds through her mail as soon as it arrives, throwing out junk mail, who gets rid of clothes yearly, etc... not so much! At least in my writing life I know how to purge the unnecessary stuff! Thanks so much!

Lindsay Bonilla said...

I wasn't able to cut my word count in half on today's MS, but I trimmed off 100 words, so I was pretty pleased with that! :) It definitely tightened up the story so I was pleased!

Bitsy Kemper said...

Cutting words wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I might need to put a few of them back in, but honestly, not many! Thanks Deborah (and Meg)!

moonduster said...

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who develops stories that might not appear to be publishable. If a story idea grabs me, I run with it, regardless of whether or not it falls in with current trends or with the current market. :)

Eileen said...

Thanks for sharing!

Deborah Underwood said...

Patrick Waldron: I tried to respond to the question you emailed, but my email to you bounced. If you happen to see this, please try again!

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for this post!

Lisa Willard said...

Fun to hear you had Paddington Bear in your tape deck.
Thanks for the reminder to be patient with ourselves!

Jackie Wellington said...

I am so happy that I was able to cut some words. I only cut 60, but for me, that is a lot. So I can celebrate ! Yeah, me! :D

Ping Wan said...

Thanks all for the support, I was able to cut 10 words to one of my MS that I thought I couldn't touch anymore.

Blanche Baxter said...

This was a dramatic approach, and very hard for me. But it helped a lot! I guess I tend towards wordiness. ;-)

Heather Brinkerhoff said...

Yes, I too think... And what if you didn't......what if we don't? !