Editing Your Children’s Book

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Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audio and film media. The editing process can involve correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate and complete work. (Wikipedia)

A Clear Narrative Arc

All writers are aware of the basic plot structure: a clear start, middle and end.  But sometimes this narrative arc is lost while creating and detailing the plot structure. And this is a major disaster when writing for children. While editing, read your work keeping in mind this three phase structure. Make sure that you can clearly demarcate these three sections of your book.

Keep Track, Be Consistent

When writing a longish book, writers often lose track of minor plot details or the character details – age, hair color, relationship trivia etc. Since children are always alert to these discrepancies, it is critical for a children’s author to get every last detail right.

Use character reference sheets, which list the crucial features of each character, her relationships and link to plot. And regularly update this data as you work on the plot and build up your characters.  This will go a long way in maintaining consistency of your book, no matter how long it takes you to write it.

 Show, Don’t Tell

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”  ― Anton Chekhov

This well-worn cliché is perhaps the greatest challenge to a children’s writer. The challenge here is to keep the children actively involved in the story-telling process, instead of feeding them all the details. All the facts, descriptions and conversations should be leads to guide the reader through the story, and not fluorescent signposts that leave nothing to imagination.

Don’t hang on to the Dead Wood

After all the effort put into the work, most writers would baulk at hacking off parts of their beloved manuscript. Although a difficult and painful process, this is a task all writers will have to steel themselves for. The rule of the thumb being that anything that does not move the story forward has to be deleted. This could involve – lines, paragraphs and sometimes whole chapters, subplots or even characters.  Done correctly, this process will only make your work leaner, meaner and more effective! And keep the children hooked to the tale you have spun out for them.

Get Feedback and Work on it

Make sure to get feedback from at least one person whose advice you trust. If you can get some children to have a go at it, good for you!! Get honest feedback about what worked for them and what did not. Filter the advice and work on the advice which you agree with.

Keep the Grammar Simple

Unless you are absolutely sure of the intricacies of grammar usage, keep it simple. Just make sure that you get the full stop, comma and apostrophe right!  Avoid using punctuation marks you have little knowledge of – with or without the help of Microsoft!

Another common blunder that writers often make is the switching of tenses (past to present/present to past. So pay special attention to the usage of tense in your manuscript and spot it before readers do!

Consistent Formatting

Just like the grammar, keep the formatting (titles, subtitles, font etc.), simple but consistent. Use the ‘style’ function of your word processing package and be attentive, especially when you start a new section, type in a header or change font.

Proofreading

Proofreading is reexamining your written work very carefully to correct errors in grammar and spelling.

Get a professional Editor

A writer can get paid editing services provided by specialized editing firms or by freelance editors. The services provided are varied and can include proofreading, copy editing, line editing, developmental editing, editing for search engine optimization (SEO), etc. Depending on the services required, you can avail of professional editors, either by contacting an editing firm or a freelance editor.

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avatar a.raodcruz (58 Posts)

A specialist in Children’s book writing and Guide for Children’s Authors


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