If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a fan of using mentor texts. A mentor text is a book that you use as a guide in one particular aspect of your own writing.
You might use I am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde as a mentor for writing about an abstract concept for young readers.
Patriotic but potentially controversial? Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers.
Considering a quiet book? I’d look at Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon. Your book may be very different but this is the quiet book that, in my experience, all others are compared to.
But sometimes you chose a mentor text and it just doen’t work. That was the case when I looked at Home by Caron Ellis as an example of how to bring one of my picture book ending home. Ellis makes her book on varied houses work by ending it at her own home. Get it? She brings it home. I know. It sounds corny but it really works.
I’d tried something similar with my prayer book. But no one who read the new ending liked it. It felt disjointed. Compared to the rest of the book, it felt narrow. And the really funny part? After reading my manuscript, someone recommended that I read Home. Been there. Done that. Have the draft to prove it.
Mentor texts are a great way of learning what can work in a story but sometimes they are just as valuable for teaching you that what works for one manuscript may not work for another. My advice, keep reading. You never know when you will read the book that will bring everything together in your mind and on the page.