Petite ReviMo October - Revising through Research

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Revision. When it boils down to it, we all have slightly different approaches to revising our crappy drafts. Sure, there are common threads…all the components that go into good writing. There are tons of awesome checklists and resources for revision that certainly make our task a bit easier. (Here’s a new favorite of mine developed by Elizabeth and Gregory Cowan.) But, none of that matters if we don’t have a stand-out concept with emotional resonance. I’m sure you’re wondering: How can I revise that?


Your research can lead you down many different avenues. I’d like to cover three of them today.

Picture Books with Similar Concepts or Themes

Identify what is at the heart of your book, and look for similar themes and concepts at the library. What are you writing about? Perhaps your story has the theme of overcoming fears. What kind are they? Are they specific to starting school, meeting new people, or interacting with dogs? While looking up subject titles on Goodreads and Amazon is a great start, you will want to delve into them more. Bring them home and get to know them. Analyze plot, concept, theme, structure, character, and voice. What works for these books? What doesn’t? How is your manuscript different? What makes the books stand out? How can you make yours differ even more? How can you mix it all up and create something that has not been done yet?

Picture Books with 5 Star Concepts

These are books that may not have the same theme as your manuscript. They are simply books that you immediately think: “This idea is so unique!” or “There is nothing else like this out there!”

Analyze the concept in depth:
What about it do kids relate to? What makes it different than anything else out there? Does it remind you of another story? If so, how did the author create something unique? How does the author use voice to enhance the concept? Does the main character drive this story in a unique way? How did you personally relate to this main character? Apply what you learn to your own manuscript.

Picture Books that Speak from the Same Point of View (POV)

When analyzing this category, it is important that you first know the point of view basics. Ann Whitford Paul covers this well in, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS: A HANDS ON GUIDE FROM STORY CREATION TO PUBLICATION. If you have not read this book yet, it is a must. Even if you have, Chapters 3-5 would be an important revisit during your revision experiments.

From which POV did you write your story? Third Person Narrative Voice, First Person, Second Person? Furthermore, which voice and tense did you use?

Now look at some of your favorite picture books. Even better, look at your current favorites. What works in today’s market is very different than what worked 10 years ago (and in many cases, even 3 years ago.) Which POV, voice, and tense do your favorites use? How can you use the “mentor text”, as Marcie Flinchum Atkins calls it, to help you with your current work in progress?

After analyzing your point of view, you may discover that you need to try writing it from a new POV. Don’t let that drag you down! Revision is the ONLY thing that will lead you to your final draft. Happy revising!

Thank you so much Carrie! Love your take on this. :)

More about Carrie Charley Brown:
Carrie Charley Brown juggles ideas every day as a children’s writer, teacher, blogger, and mom. She believes success is possible with the next best idea. She is constantly researching by reading TONS of picture books, and currently serves as a CYBILS Fiction Picture Book Panelist. You can learn more about Carrie, and many other amazing authors, on her website: Carrie On…Together!, or follow her on Twitter and You Tube.