Dummying Your Work

Lately I’ve been rewriting the picture book that Bree Ogden critiqued at the Missouri SCBWI conference this fall.  She asked me to add several things, pointing out that I had plenty of wiggle room before I hit 1000 words.

Apparently not quite enough wiggle room.

In my rewriting, I added another “attempt” to solve the problem and deepened the characterization and managed to squeak right on past 1000.  No, 1060 isn’t bad but I’m not sure it is as tight as it could be.  That means cutting unnecessary words.  No big deal, but I have noticed that when I do this in a picture book in standard manuscript format, I tend to cut a lot early on and maybe at the very end, skimming through the middle.

I plan to solve that problem for this particular manuscript by dummying it.  Dummying will do two things for me.

It will let assure me that even with the added attempt my manuscript is still the right length for a picture book.

It will force me to look at my work spread by spread.  When I do this, especially if I take a super short break at approximately the 1/3 and 2/3 marks, I will do a much better job studying each spread and making sure that the language sings.

With that in mind, it is time to go get the scissors and the tape.  I have a dummy to make.