Monday, August 16, 2010

Revisions . . .

Before I begin this post, how about a huge THANKS to everyone who made WriteOnCon possible. Was that a great conference or what? I hope all of you organizers are getting to hibernate for a few days (or at least, getting to have that much needed chocolate or ice cold mojito).

Soooo . . . . I received my much anticipated revision letter from my editor at Viking a few weeks ago. I was thankful to see minor revisions and lots of kind words. Most of the text changes were necessary to make things more clear to the reader, the reader is probably in kindergarten and really doesn't want to be confused, after all. It is amazing how much better my book reads after some minor tweaks and changes here and there.

Big sigh of relief (although, I will say that I would have turned the book upside-down and on its head if that's what my editor thought would make it better--just sayin'). These revisions were just changes of the text, so I'm not looking at my illustrations yet. Yet . . .

But, one of the suggested revisions involved a change that necessitated a change of the illustration. My editor had me flip two pages and when I did that, the facial expression on my character didn't make sense. I couldn't help doing a minor edit to the illustration, just so the story flowed properly.

This reminded me just how interconnected the illustrations and text really are in a picture book. And, I strongly believe if you write picture books, even if you aren't an illustrator, you need to do some kind of visuals as you write and revise--stick people thumbnails are fine. It can make all the difference in the pacing of the story, and it can make you see how big an effect a change in a fifteen word phrase in an 800 word picture book will have on the overall story.

What say ye picture book writers out there? I've never written a picture book text without also doing some sketching and thinking about the illustrations. I'm interested to know if non-illustrators who write picture books think about them visually or is it more of a verbal thing with the cadence of the words, etc.



Christina Lee said...

Well I've never written one b/f but I will say how impressed I am with the skill it must take to do one. That is all...

Katie said...

For me, an accomplished PB writer (heh heh), it's all about the words.

But you might be right. If I would draw some thumbnails, I might *find* the right words more easily.

(*laughing at the thought of writing a PB and drawing thumbnails now. ha! PBs ARE SO DURN HARD!)

P.S. make John watch that last Mad Men DVD tonight. Thanks!

Little Ms J said...

As the aunt of many children that love to read picture books over and over and over and over...

Can't wait to hold it in my hands!

Rachael Harrie said...

That's such a good question. I'm a writer of PBs, but not an illustrator (wish I was that too, but that's a whole 'nother story!). I'd be interested to see how other PB-writers-only do it, but as I write my story a good portion of my brain is taken up with thinking about how well the words I've just written can be illustrated. I've learnt not to be overly descriptive in my sentences, as it will be left to the illustrator to give my words the description/picture. And I've often actually changed a sentence or seven because I came up with new ways of saying something that would allow for much better illustrations (in my mind at least). I wonder if many other PB writers do this as well???

Corey Schwartz said...

I do try to keep illustrations in mind, but I never actually sketch!

Like Rachel said, I am aware that what I write needs t be "illustratable."

So for example, I had a line "But their band hardly ever got hired" and this seemed tough to express visually, so I changed it to "Their gigs were not widely attended." I could envision a concert with empty stands.

storyqueen said...

Occasionally a picture will pop in my head, but usually, it's about the words.

I used to joke with my students that if I did my own illustrations, my book would be called the Adventures of Stick Boy.

I actually thought it was kind of funny.

enter Jeff Kinney and Wimpy Kid.


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