Friday, January 4, 2013

Revision Tips - Shelley Moore Thomas

I am no expert on writing. My own process is ever-changing, ever evolving and I continue to learn and grow with each manuscript I work on. Even the books that I’ve written that have not been published (and might not ever be) have helped me become a better writer. It is the work that makes them better. Makes me better. Working hard and taking risks are very necessary in any revision. I’ve had nine picture books published, and one middle grade novel, and pretty much revision is revision is revision, no matter what you are working on. It’s just hard.

BUT, there are ways to make it a little easier on yourself.

Here are a few tips I swear by:


  1. Read your manuscript aloud. This is important for all books, but crucial for picture books. You have to find the stumbly bits and fix them before it’s too late. You have to feel the words in your mouth and make sure they roll off your tongue the way you want them to. Picture books for the most part are meant to be read aloud. You have to give your manuscript several test drives when you are revising it.
  2. Kid test your manuscript. Oh, I know. Agents and editors say they don’t care if all the neighborhood kids love your book, but really, who better to judge if a book works for kids than kids themselves? Read your stuff to kids and get their feedback. They won’t pull any punches, but believe me, they will tell you things you want to know, like for instance, “It picks up after the beginning. I really didn’t get what was going on at first.” Yikes! (But don’t you want to know this before you send it off?)
  3. Trust your gut. Deep down, you know the parts of your book that really work and you know the parts you are unsure of. Listen to that little voice. It is worth more than a thousand gold coins. It KNOWS. 
  4. Give yourself time. When you know there is a problem in your manuscript, give yourself time for solutions to present themselves. There is rarely a quick fix. But when it comes, you’ll think “Of course! It’s so simple! What didn’t I think of this sooner?” 
Good luck. And remember, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE has to revise. You are not alone.


Shelley Moore Thomas is the author of ten books for children including the much heralded GOOD NIGHT, GOOD KNIGHT series of easy readers. Her latest book, THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET (a middle grade novel with a strong Celtic influence), was released last September. TRINKET has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. It was also Kirkus Review’s BEST BOOKS OF 2012.

You can find her on:

Her Website
Blog 
Twitter

BUY LINKS:

Shelley's books on Amazon - on B&N - on Indiebound 


9 comments:

  1. LOVE this post :) Reading out loud catches so many mistakes, and I always kid test my kid books :D I'm lucky enough to have two young kids so I pop in to their classrooms when I can and test stories out on the whole class lol

    Thanks for tips!!

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  2. Just about to start revising a new WIP, so this was a timely post for me to read~ thanks for the tips, Shelley!

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  3. I find it so valuable to have my daughters read my manuscripts - they quickly point out what doesn't make sense from a kid perspective. Thanks for these great tips!

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  4. Great advice for any manuscript, not just picture books. Thanks!

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  5. Fabulous advice! I write mostly YA Paranormal and find reading aloud essential to spot and fix my natural sappiness. And it was a 12-yr-old boy who helped me realize my MG Adventure was "good, but kinda slow in some parts."

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  6. Fabulous advice! I write mostly YA Paranormal and find reading aloud essential to spot and fix my natural sappiness. And it was a 12-yr-old boy who helped me realize my MG Adventure was "good, but kinda slow in some parts."

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  7. #4 - you hit the nail on the head! Time, distance, and the opportunity to read something other than your own MS are so helpful!

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  8. I have reread your first paragraph so many times. Most of it is exactly how I feel about writing, could be my words (up to the 'had 9 books published' part, haha). "It is the work that makes them better. Makes me better." could be my new mantra :)
    I completely agree that the books should be kid-tested too. My daughter is very supportive and loves reading my stories. We just don't have to tell the agents :)

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  9. I love these tips. Thank you, Shelley!
    I read my pb's aloud, but never my mg. Excellent idea.
    And I test my pb's in the classrooom!!

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