Its done. My January manscript for the 12 x 12 in '12 Challenge is done. Kinda. I mean, I have the first draft and I am truly pleased with it. And the sense of accomplishment from meeting the challenge is wonderful! Thank you again to Julie Hedlund for this amazing opportunity and fantastic journey.
That being said, I am a little perplexed and have hit a tad of a roadblock as a Picture Book author who is NOT an illustrator.
I took my January Manuscript to my monthly Critique Group this past Wednesday, and as always they had very helpful feedback and also some nice compliments on the piece. It felt good to get some direction on areas that were giving me trouble and to have a focus for my revisions. (By the way, if you are a writer and not already a part of a Crit Group....get one! I started mine myself and I have to say, what I have gained has been priceless!)
Anyway, one of the hardest aspects of writing Picture Books that I most hear from authors is the struggle to tell the story while also leaving room for pictures and an illustrator's imagination and creative flair. Some struggle with describing and telling too much so that the illustrator does not have room to "collaborate". In fact, the very first manuscript I wrote got that very comment from an editor/friend of mine..."make sure to leave room for the illustrator's portion of the story."
I wrestled with this idea for so long. I wrote and wrote, always trying to "leave room" for the illustrator. When I finally got feedback that said, "Wow! An illustrator would have so much fun with this project. There is so much here to depict," I knew that I had finally somewhat achieved this.
Therefore, when I write manuscripts I try to keep them action-packed and fun on every page so that I can visualize them in my head...but not paint all of that visualizing with words. So, sometimes it means leaving "space"for for an illustrator's ideas. Does that make sense? Still with me?
Let me provide an example....
My latest manuscript involves a crazy trip to the moon in a homemade rocketship of sorts. I did keep this line brief, only stating that the protagonists "began to build with any items they could find." In my writer's mind I was leaving an open enough space for an illustrator to really have fun with this.
BUT...when I brought this manuscript to my Crit Group we spent a lot of time discussing what these found items were that made up the rocketship and some even wrote on my manuscript that they wanted to see or know what these items were.
Now enter a perplexed Marcie. Should I add a line that lists perhaps 3 items and then leave the rest to the illustrator? Do I list more and add this detail verbally? Do I leave as is?
When someone gives the feedback, "I want to see..." after reading a PB manuscript, does this mean that the author has done their job or not written enough?
Definitely something that makes this PB author go "hmmmmm......"
I would love to know what you all in the kidlit blogosphere have to say...