Last month I attended a Manuscript Revision Retreat with Darcy Pattison. It was a warm, cozy setting in the home of one of our Missouri children’s authors, and everyone there was fired up with enthusiasm.
For those of us whose school days are long behind us, we were re-introduced to homework! A month before the retreat we were given the first of our assignments which included books to read, manuscripts to read and evaluate from our retreat group (mine was the picture book group), and submitting a cover letter and manuscript.
Unlike most of Darcy’s revision retreats, we didn’t stay overnight, but left to go home and work on our manuscripts before returning the next morning—more homework. I felt that I got a lot accomplished in the bits of time that we had to re-write.
Between the time before the retreat and when it ended on Sunday mid-day, I cut my picture book manuscript from over 1100 words to under 850 words, and improved the story while doing so.
Much of the same advice can apply to novelists and picture book writers as well. I think that the biggest benefit for me was the focus on sensory details and word choice. Varying sentence length, attention to the number of syllables in words, and attention to vowel sounds and the sounds of consonants to create mood shows what power the ‘right’ word has in your story. Focusing on the last word on the page and making that word strong brought new insight to making a picture book dummy.
It was a very satisfying week-end in more ways than one. It was two days focused on writing for children without distraction, with new insights, tips and information, shared evaluations and critiques from other children’s writers, in the company of enthusiastic writers who are dedicated to writing good books for children.
You can visit Darcy Pattison at her website: http://www.darcypattison.com/ or click under the photo.
Some recommended books for writers:
NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS, by Darcy Pattison
30 DAYS TO A STRONGER PICTURE BOOK by Darcy Pattison
A POETRY HANDBOOK: A PROSE GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING AND WRITING POETRY by Mary Oliver
THE FIRST FIVE PAGES by Noah Lukeman
Some websites to visit:
http://www.aaronshep.com/kidwriter/index.html Read More