Last month I received the following message from the editor of my children’s book. “I’d like you to increase your story quite a bit. Do you think that you’ll be able to handle that? I’m going to give you detailed notes and guidelines to aid you as you write if you’d like to go that route. …”
“Why not?” I asked myself. Then the detailed notes and guidelines arrived. I didn’t know where to begin. Her comments were color coded. Blue for suggested changes and/or additions. Grey indicated a word or section to be deleted. Green highlighting (I have never liked green) was for passages that needed to be rewritten. I was instructed not to delete anything myself. If I wanted something removed I was to put brackets around the text and change the font color to red. All new passages were to be typed in red, sans brackets.
It took me several readings to make sense of the instructions. However, once I finished rewriting chapter one which encompassed most of the original children’s book, I was in the red zone of creativity. Following the rules got easier.
Writing a chapter book for kids 8-10 years old is very different from writing a picture book. The characters remained the same but they had to grow along with the story line. Their vocabulary changed and their interaction with one another became more complex. Point of view was affected. A talking cat in a picture book is okay. A talking cat in chapter book is not as accepted. In the expanded version, Critique, the heroine’s cat, maintains her scrappy attitude but I had to rewrite how she expressed it. The reader now experiences Critique’s personality through the eyes of the main character, Storee Wryter.
Then came all the new scenes and expanded information. It was no longer enough to mention that the dog in this book trains to become a therapy dog. I spent days researching various training techniques, types of therapy dogs and the costs involved. I visited a dog trainer and talked with a teacher who has an Education Assistance dog come into her classroom to help teach kids to read.
I learned a great deal as the new version of the book evolved and I appreciate having been given the opportunity to stretch my creativity to the benefit of my characters. And, I’m grateful to the editor for seeing the possibilities I missed when crafting this story.
I write this today not only to share my latest writing challenge but also to explain why this blog has been unattended for a while. I’m back now and waiting to hear what the editor thinks of the revisions. Her comments are expected on September 30th. Wish me luck.