Three Ways to Tackle Your Next Picture Book Revision

Critique Group Goals (Arree Chung and Jim Averbeck with some of their critique group)

How many of you have a picture book manuscript or dummy that you want to revise, but for one reason or another, you’re feeling stuck?

First Stop: Critique Partners

Getting feedback can help. If you have a critique group or someone you trust for advice on how to make your story better, that can be the easiest way to get direction. It’s definitely a great first stop.

Second Stop: Arree’s Three Clarifying Questions

But what if you don’t have that support yet, or you’re getting conflicting feedback from your critique partners? If you don’t have someone else to ask you questions, you’re going to have to ask them yourself. Arree Chung shares some clarifying questions in the following Making Picture Book Dummies highlight (along with examples from popular children’s books) that can help you make sure you’re creating a kid-relatable story

Arree’s Clarifying Questions:

  1. What’s the problem in your story?
  2. Is the problem kid-relatable?
  3. What’s the emotion? What’s at stake (or why do we care)?

He cautions storytellers not to use a bunch of actions to escalate the story. If those actions aren’t grounded in emotion, the reader won’t care. It’s important to make your readers feel something.

Make sure the problem in your story is kid-relatable and has kid appeal. Once you’ve identified the kid-relatable problem and emotion in your story, it’s easier to revise the whole thing. Don’t feel badly if it’s hard to identify those two story elements. If you’re having trouble, you probably just need to simplify.

Third Stop: Jim’s Hierarchy of Revision

If you haven’t heard Jim Averbeck talk about his revision process, you’re in for a treat. He works his way up from foundational revision problems to fine tuning his word choices. And even if you have heard Jim talk, if you’re stuck, listening to him again might nudge you in the right direction.

I hope that helps! If you have revision tips, please share them in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Blog Contributors

Instructor Photo: Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

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