Posted by: nancyisanders | May 2, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book: Self-Editing Tips

I know that many of us have finished our first draft of our nonfiction picture book that we’ve been working on these past 3 weeks.

And some of us have other first drafts of nonfiction picture books that we’ve been working on.

So if you haven’t yet downloaded my free rubric, NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK SELF-EDITING CHECKLIST to help you during the self-editing process, just click on the link to the site of my feline writing buddies, Writing According to Humphrey and Friends.

Scroll down until you see the RUBRICS TO HELP EVALUATE OR CRITIQUE MANUSCRIPTS OR PUBLISHED BOOKS.

Click on the NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK SELF-EDITING CHECKLIST.

Print it out and use it as a reference as you go over your first draft and polish it to be the best that you know how to do at this stage of your writing career.

And now, here’s a guest post from the top cat himself, Humphrey!

Hi My name is Humphrey. I’m a cat. You may already know that. But what you may not know is that I’m also a writer. And today, I want to tell you about putting on your editor’s hat.

Do you like to edit your own manuscripts? You know—self edit? Come on…really?

I don’t.

I mean, it’s just not the cat’s meow.

But I know I should. I know I’m supposed to. I know it’s what a cat’s gotta do to learn how to be a successful writer. So I decided to break my habit of neglecting this part of my writing life.

The first thing I did was get myself an editor’s hat. You know—first you wear the writer’s hat and then you take that off and put on your editor’s hat? Right? Well, I didn’t have an editor’s hat. So I went out and got one. Like it? It even has a little mouse at the top and this twirly thing to twirl around. It’s purrfect for a cat like me. You should get one, too!

After I finish my first draft of my manuscript, I set aside some time to edit. And now I make sure it isn’t the drudgery it used to be. I make sure it’s fun!

I put on my silly editor’s beanie. It gets me in the mood to have fun, dude. Then I get out my special highlighter pens. I splurged and bought some wa-ay cool ones that I can use to make neon colors and decorate all over my manuscript. (They don’t even have a cap to lose, but click like a ballpoint pen.) Since I have neon yellow and neon pink and neon orange, now I’m HOPING to find mistakes in my manuscript just so I can mark ‘em on my page and turn the boring black and white little marks on the paper into bright, fun, colorful pictures.

I know my weaknesses, too. So I made a list of ‘em. Here are the first three, for starters:
1. Don’t always use punctuation correctly.
2. Weak verbs.
3. Poorly constructed paragraphs without a clear beginning, middle, and end.

I also printed out some self-editing checklists from how-to-write books, and articles I found on the Internet. These lists remind me to check for realistic dialog, show don’t tell, and lots of other important stuff.

I take my highlighters and have some fun! First I look at every single sentence I wrote in my first paragraph. I highlight the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence in pink. I highlight the punctuation in that sentence in yellow. Then I make sure to check that I used that punctuation correctly.

If I’m not sure about the punctuation rule, I look it up in my reference books. But hey—my reference books aren’t bo-o-oring like yours might be. Oh no! First I made specially decorated book covers for each one of ‘em so they’re bright and colorful, not scary-looking or over-the-top academic. Then I got my highlighters out and really decorated the pages I use the most to remind me what the rules are that I most often forget. Plus, I got sticky notes in all shapes and sizes to stick on the pages I look up over and over again. I want to save my energy for chasing mice, not for flipping through the pages looking up the same rule I’ve used a zillion times before. Like I said—I want this self-editing thing to be as fun as a cat can have it.

So hey—how about you? Are you having fun when you self-edit your manuscript? If not, do something about it. Make it fun, like I did. Now editing’s my favorite part of writing. Not! But really, it’s way more fun than it used to be. Especially when I put on my editor’s hat. And nibble on tunafish…but that’s another story.


Responses

  1. Making reference books are a great idea. I think that is a project I will do today. I will make one for capital, comma, hyphen, and dashes. These are the ones I used the most in my writing.

  2. Reblogged this on Why I Write Picture Books? (#YIWritePB) and commented:
    This was awesome! I had to share.

    • Yay!!! I’m so glad you like this. My cats (and writing buddies) always have great advice, especially since it brings a chuckle.

      • You are my rock star. You are helping me out more than you know. When I win the Newberry (and I will), be prepared to hear your name in the acceptance speech. 😀 Thanks again for the encouragement and the support.

      • Jackie, you always bring a smile to my heart. Thanks for your sweet words!!!!!

      • 😉


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