Editing my own work has always been a struggle for me. When I first started writing essays in university, I used to have to physically cut up my paper to organise like sentences into paragraphs and like paragraphs into groups. I was (and still am) Queen of Tangents and Random Tidbits. My cut and paste strategy helped me weed them out and make sure my essays were on topic.
When it comes to picture book writing, most editors are looking for work that is under 750 words (500 is even better). That means a lot of editing for me as I tend to wax poetic and include extra information. “Leave room for pictures,” I’ve been advised in some of my feedback.
So when I first came across Tara Lazar’s post on picture book layout, I knew I had found a visual to help me (http://taralazar.com/2009/02/22/picture-book-construction-know-your-layout/). I took her illustrations and made up templates for myself. Then I cut up my stories and try to fit them into the template (I use adhesive putty so the pieces are easy to move).
It’s a bit of work but it’s a strategy that helps me on several fronts. It helps me:
- see where my story is word heavy.
- focus on page breaks.
- be more conscious of building up the tension before a page turn.
- make sure my story has balance between the beginning, middle, end (i.e.-it’s not all lead up and then resolution in two pages or the like).
- make sure my story is picture book material (instead of better suited for a magazine or potentially has the makings of a early chapter book).
- shake up my writing a bit and break out of a rut with a story.
Just a strategy I thought I’d share as it helps me out. Anyone have a writing strategy they find useful?