What makes a publishable manuscript?
This one’s easy. The story that you can’t get out of your head. The character that you fall in love with every time you re-read the story. Every time. And the fact that you want to re-read the story – and to re read the lines – the words – again and again. The one – the story - that makes you want to carry the book …close.
How do you determine if a story idea is worth pursuing/revising?
Time is always my best friend in helping me decide if an idea is worth pursuing. If you (one) can write the idea down –the premise – and put it somewhere special – file the idea away. Put it w a y away… For a month – or 2. Or 6 months. And then look at it again – with new eyes… That’s a sure fire test. This works well with a ms… Because you can never ever read a ms. every day with fresh eyes and ears. Which is what one needs to see and hear the story clearly.
Putting the ms. away for such a long time is tough. But this exercise will serve you well… it always has for me.
Revisions are excruciating and, at the same time - so very pleasurable. Easy to know when a story is not working … (we all know when it isn’t)… but problem solving is a lot of what children’s book writing is about… and being ‘in it’ is gooey-good – at least for me. But please remember that I deal with texts that have sometimes 50 - 70 words? And since every single word must be the exact right word – revising a text may mean living with and re-thinking, re-sleeping with, obsessing about ONE SINGLE WORD. Completely captivating. Completely engaging. Nuts but I truly love doing this. Reworking until it works.
I’d love briefly to talk about where ideas really come from – for me. They come to me – or more accurately – I snatch them out of thin air…
I hear THINGS –
on the radio
on TV (I sometimes watch, much to my annoyance)
I overhear people
I look at ads in newspapers
and often I’ll be in a conversation and someone will say something
and that something –
that Great Idea –
will hang there in the air –
often in a green neon typeface…
and then I’ll know that the idea is worth writing down
or I’ll surely forget it.
But never do I ‘come up’ with an idea for a story…they come to me. And you CANNOT lose faith in the fact that this process - this happening – will happen again. It does in it’s own good time. Can’t control the flow. I value ‘down’ time – Driving my car with the radio turned off. That’s a great time for idea gathering. Or walking the dogs…or duck.
Any other thoughts for fellow picture book writers?
haha… who am I to say… but maybe to…
Keep the faith.
Great Ideas come when you least expect them.
Be totally original.
Write the story that no one else can write.
(I didn’t come up with that – but it’s a great piece of advice).
I think there are 4 elements that we all share:
1. We’re all talented. Yup – we are.
2. You have to be lucky.
3. You need to be relentless.
4. And hope that timing is on your side.
Thank you so much Lindsay!
Lindsay has doodled the animals outside her home in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, but is presently doodling the critters outside her 1898 red-brick schoolhouse. She lives with her husband, two cats, a diva mini Dachshund named Maggie, and a very handsome duck in northeastern Pa.
Lindsay loves to read books, she loves making books, she loves teaching how to make a book, and her dog, Maggie, loves to chew on books.
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.
3. If you have revised a Picture Book manuscript and commented on today's post, click ENTER and you're entered! Remember you are on the honor system!
Only one more day, hang in there everyone!! You can do this!
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!