The editing process can be a painful one. A year ago I started writing my picture book I'm Just a Home Child about my Great Grandma, Daisy Blay (see my post "The British Home Children", dated August 1). I have gotten several good suggestions from fellow writers; however, with every rewrite, I add to my word count. Now I am up to 2400 words. Ideally, I would like to cut the book in half. But how do I do that without losing important details and scenes?
Ever since I first started writing, I have always gone above my designated word count. If a professor asked me to write a 1000 word essay, I would give him 1200 words. If he wanted 1500, I would give him 2000. It is a real talent to say a lot in a small amount of space. Less is more, as they say.
I'd like to submit my book to a publisher by the end of this month so I have my work cut out for me. Again, I appreciate the tips that I receive from other writers, but at the same time, I don't want to take so much advice that the work isn't mine anymore. Should I cut the beginning? Should I shorten the ending? Should I cut the middle section? Should I focus on one day of Daisy's life, one year or her entire childhood? How do I write from a child's point of view, but at the same time keep the material interesting enough for an adult (since parents usually read picture books to their children)? How do I convey the helplessness of my Great-Grandma's situation without making each scene melodramatic? How do I make the book educational, but not scary? How do I paint a picture for the reader rather than simply tell a story?
These are the questions I ask myself as I read over my manuscript for the hundredth time. What is that special quality that my writing needs to attract the eye of an editor? I have sold the idea (three publishers said they wanted to read my manuscript); now I have to sell the finished product. I long for the day when I hold the actual book in my hand. For now, I will hang on to others' success stories. Back to the drawing board I go.
Cartoon courtesy www.cartoonstock.com