Monday, July 03, 2006

Rewriting a previously told story

A few years ago, I wrote a picture book that was based upon a childhood experience of mine. It deals with an issue that all children face in some form or another. Author friend, Cynthia, was kind enough to read it, and offer feedback. One suggestion she made in particular was to rewrite my story using animals. I had planned to do just that, but never did, discouraged when another book published with the same concept.

I hadn't actually read the other story, and avoided doing so as not to be swayed by it, should I decide to revise my story. Recently, I dug up that old manuscript, and rewrote it. Then, I read that other, previously published story by another author. It was too close to mine — same concept, similar animals, same problems for the MC to solve, same everything.

Next weekend, I'm meeting with Chris, my critique partner, and for now, I'm leaving the story as is, with the exception of tightening it up. Maybe he'll have some ideas on how to retain my basic premise, while making enough changes that I won't be rehashing a story already on the market. Anyway, that's what I'll be up to this week.

Happy 4th!

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A big congratz goes out to author friend, Cynthia Leitich Smith, who recently debuted the cover for her upcoming YA novel, Tantalize.

1 comment:

rindambyers said...

You, know, I am wondering....same concept, same problems to solve, there are tons of books out there with the same concept, same problems to solve. That kind of thing is not unique and shouldn't intimidate you. Publishers always need new books on old concepts and problems. My first PB was a "new baby" book, was chosen to fill the new baby book slot on the publishers' list. That's okay;it's how I wrote it that was so different and also a second reason why the publisher chose to publish it. I wasn't writing to fill any new baby slot. I found a deep emotional place and wrote from there. They only made a very few minor copyediting changes in the text; nothing was cut;they kept everything as I had written it.

What is important is how you individuallly paint or picture in a sense these common in other books concepts and problems. I doubt very much what you paint with words is going to look like what somebody else paints with words. In fact, if you stated to me the general concept and the problem of your book, I guarantee you I will paint something very differnt from what you paint!

I am wondering if you got blocked somehow with tryinng to turn the characters into animals, distancing that main character ID especially from your inner self. Especilaly if the story is based on a childhood experience.

Try just as a free exrecise going back to that experience (just put the book you now have aside) and describe it in first person at the age that charater had that experience. Just forget everything else and pour out the emotion on the page and let it be messy. Focus on sensory details, actions, precise descriptive words. Leave it then and then go back to it and see if that main character in particular hasn't become somebody quite unique and your word pictures very special and different from other people's.

Children like books about other children, with "kid style" problems too, just as much as they like animals!