Learn to Write - Editing Your Children's Book
The process of writing can bring out many emotions. You may have experienced frustration
when you were getting your thoughts and ideas on paper and things just weren't flowing. That's
part of how you learn to write. There was certainly excitement when the book was finished.
However, you aren't done yet! What could very well be considered the most important part of
the writing process is still to be done; that's editing.
When you edit, you have to be able to look at your work objectively. You have to step back
and see it with fresh eyes. This can be hard, but is absolutely necessary to successfully
publishing your work. There are some steps you can take to simplify the process and some
standard things that you should be looking for each and every time you edit.
Start With the Basics
One of the most important editing concerns will be the very basic principles of spelling,
grammar and punctuation. While this may seem simple to some, there are many nuances that you
may not learn until you have been writing for some time. Even good writers seem to have a pocketful
of pet errors that they have brought with them to the table. Learn to recognize them and study
the common mistakes until doing it correctly becomes second nature. There are several great
(and surprisingly entertaining) books on grammar, spelling and punctuation. Below are several
very common usage mistakes that you can study more in depth,
Also, don't forget to take the same care with things like your query letter. This is
the first thing that an editor sees when you submit your children's book. It creates the first
impression. Work that is full of errors indicates that you are sloppy and not very intelligent.
While that is certainly not true, it's hard to replace that negative first impression.
You Need a Distinct Voice
Every work needs to have a distinct voice. This is especially important when learn to
write for children. Adult novels can get away with having a level of complexity in the plot
and structure that just does not appeal to kids. Young readers, especially, need to have a
clear indication of who the center of the story is. For kids, they want that to be other kids,
so they can relate to what is happening. If you write for older children, or teens, you can
make exceptions. However, it's still best to err on the side of simplicity when it comes to
the voice of the story.
There is a Rhythm
There are two main types of children's books, and each should be looked at quite differently.
A novel needs to flow in a way that keeps the reader drawn into the story. This is usually
accomplished by keeping the action heavy at the end of a chapter. This makes your reader want
to turn the page and continue with your characters. When editing, you should close attention
to the rhythm and flow of the story. Give it to several older children to read, and ask for
some feedback. Kids tend to be quite honest about what they do and don't like.
When it comes to a picture or storybook, there is a distinct art to the process. Picture
books often flow much like poetry. There should be a natural rhythm that comes out when the
book is read aloud. Some authors fall into these patterns naturally. However, as you edit,
you may need to purposefully create this rhythm to help your book really shine.