I cannot understate how important it is to have other people look at the story. There were many times that I used to think that if I read (and re-read) my story enough, I would be able to notice all the adjustments that would need to be made.
This of course in nonsense because after a certain amount of time working on a story, it just starts to appear PERFECT. I could see everything from my story so clearly I would start to visualize the little award emblems that would be placed on the jacket-cover. Most often I see Jon J Muth illustrate my stories in my head (because one day if that became a reality, well, I think I might just explode from joy) and everything just comes into place.
That’s why it’s important to have people read your work. Because what is PERFECT in your head actually needs, how shall I put it, TONS OF WORK.
So let’s talk about Monster Hunter. More specifically, let’s talk about what Julie Falatko (see the sidebar website list to learn about her) and Sabrina Marshal said. Both Julie and Sabrina are in my Critique Group and, like all of my group, I greatly respect their opinions.
Check out what they think:
You can see that Julie caught some of the inconsistencies with my “parenthetical” comments. She also caught a few sound effects that I need to think about. When in my first draft, I was trying to figure out what a repetitive dryer/washing machine sound might be. Womp Womp Womp was the first to come to mind. Julie questioned whether or not it was the “sad trombone” sound in writing. I might change it to a more fast paced wompwompwomp.
Sabrina points out the fact that I start the picture book in an almost “prologue” format. After that, we learn her specific goal: she wants to catch a monster. While I like how my story starts, she makes a very good point that many picture books “launch” with the goal of the main character within the first few pages. I’ll need to consider whether or not Jackie’s action is evident enough of the story’s plot device. I’ll probably even play around with the opening to see how it reads with Sabrina’s idea in mind.
Of course, what I think is my biggest area that needs fixing is the end. Both Julie and Sabrina recognized that right away.
Julie pointed out how the ending isn’t consistent with the pattern of events in the rest of the story. The ladder and chimney scene (total fantasy) don’t fit with the basement or attic scene (uncertain reality).
Sabrina recognized that Jackie’s feelings at the end don’t quite make sense based on her brother’s letter. Why would Michael’s letter give Jackie a feeling of contentment? She wasn’t out to prove the existence of monsters–she was out to catch one!
With both Julie and Sabrina really zeroing in on the ending, it make sense for me to start there. When I’m done with that, I’ll fix the parenthetical sections, play around with some different sound effects, and finally, spend some mental time and energy looking at the introduction.
It’s not a “shred the story to the ground” punch list, but there’s some important things that need to be done to make this story stronger.
And when all that is complete, I’ll send it off to the critique group and we’ll go through this again. Which leads to the question, “When do you start looking for agents/publishers?”
I’ll answer that question in my next post.
Once I’ve finished rewriting.