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Children’s Book: Finalizing the Story

I’d already written two drafts for my children’s book before visiting Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago.

The first, which I wrote way back in 2011, was little more than an outline: thirteen (coincidentally, I’m sure) paragraphs defining the storyline, though focused mostly on image descriptions without even a touch of dialogue.

The second version, refined shortly after the first but really finalized only a few days before my fieldtrip, separated the story from the image descriptors, pairing the two page by page. I even indicated which were meant for left and right breakdowns and which were for full two-page spreads.

So, taking my newfound knowledge from the Barnes & Noble expedition, I counted the number of pages in this second draft and was delighted to find it conformed nicely to the 30-page layout, as I’d written 29 and secured a potential thirtieth had I wanted to include it.

Unfortunately, though, compared to other picture books, my text was too difficult and, honestly, much too long.

That in mind, I worked to simplify the text, drastically reducing the story to what I felt were its fundamental roots. For clarity, I also numbered the pages and finally nailed down a title—which, even now, I’m completely in love with.

Thinking the book pretty much final, I asked my wife to take a look at it. Only a few pages long, she read through the story pretty quickly. About halfway through, though, she looked at me and exclaimed, “I have no idea what this is.”

Confused, since I thought everything in the book was fairly known—indeed, my former Idea Trampoline had no difficulty with any of it—I asked her to clarify. And clarify she did, as she had trouble recognizing three other items included in the book and, if she didn’t know what they were, there was no way some kids would.

I immediately nixed the problematic pages, replacing a few and expanding some other pages to full spreads. To make the adjustments even more effective, I simplified the rest of the text even further and added one additional… motif, for lack of a better word.

And don’t worry; my wife supplied her seal of approval on this fourth, and final, draft.

Next step: Layout thumbnails

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