|When readers open a picture book, the text and illustrations blend together seamlessly. But most writers struggle through countless drafts to produce work in which the revision process is rendered invisible. Seeing the evolution of a published book is a rare opportunity that is provided throughout Writing It Right! How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories.|
Until now, most books about writing for children emphasized mastering craft, submitting manuscripts and getting published. Sandy Asher’s idea in this handy guidebook is simple but brilliant: Writers share drafts, editorial critiques and manuscripts that were eventually published, and in doing so provide a realistic picture of the writing process. In the introduction, Asher defines her vision of the book. Writing It Right! is a forum for showing the early drafts of picture books, magazine stories and book chapters. The first drafts are filled with highlighted sections that need work; readers can later look at the published version and compare the difference.
Asher suggests a further value to this text: “It’s not unusual for a story to go back and forth between editor and author several times during the revising and polishing process.” She also provides editorial commentary and nine questions that drive a story forward. The result is a wonderful guide for writers who are developing and refining their manuscripts.Anyone interested in writing for children should consult this book. Asher is well aware that writing a book chapter requires different technical skills than writing a picture book. Each chapter includes an introduction that is organized into several parts: the story draft, editorial commentary, the published version, an interview with the author, and a conversation with the editor who worked extensively on the project.
The authors in this collection are widely published and highly acclaimed. They include Barbara Seuling, Johannah Hurwitz, David Lubar, Kate McMullan and Vivian Vande Velde, to name just a few.Asher starts the book with an open invitation to “meet 20 authors, myself among them, and watch us in action, attempting to juggle story elements through one draft after another—until we get it right. And we do get it right. Each piece you’ll witness being worked on was eventually published.” Whether readers are witnessing the revisions of a first-time author or a long-established writer, Asher provides a precious glimpse into the creative process of writing a short story, picture book or novel.
The book is logically divided into chapters: an introduction, picture books, short stories, books for younger readers, and books for older readers. Since the book is well-organized, writers of short stories may consult one section while picture-book writers will find a different chapter to be helpful. These authors discuss the revision process during the interviews as they recollect the difficulty of transforming an idea into a marketable text. To create a high-quality story, the authors say, create a compelling main character and allow him to drive the story forward, building scenes into a strong climax that demonstrates growth and development by the protagonist. Several editors provide invaluable advice about creating stories that are marketable. “Make sure the conflict that’s introduced at the beginning is the one that’s resolved at the end,” advises Marileta Robinson, who was a long-time editor at Highlights for Children. Revision is a balance between the magazine’s needs and the writer’s vision; editors recommend that writers follow editors’ suggestions before resubmitting a manuscript.
Writers provide tips about the revision process while editors provide guidance about bringing a marketable work to press. Sandy Asher has compiled the perspectives of 20 published authors along with seasoned editors. Readers will come away with a new appreciation of the writing process, since many of these manuscripts required countless revisions before going to press. The variety of manuscripts, editorial commentary and perspectives in this book will provide a valuable resource for novice and seasoned writers who seek to revise the genesis of an idea into an excellent manuscript. Writing It Right! is the perfect guide for the writer who seeks publication in the elusive and difficult field of children’s literature.