How do you edit a picture book?
Here are a few of my suggestions.
Read it and see if it fits into the age group you are shooting for.
Ask yourself ---
Does it have a plot?
Does it have a satisfying ending?
(I just read a middle grade novel. I was anxious to see how it ended, but when I turned and read the last page. I thought, What? Is this the end? I was very unsatisfied with the ending.) Don't let your readers down - have a good ending.
Does it use good word choices for a picture book?
Do you use repetition and alliteration to your advantage?
Does it pass the read aloud test? Word, rhythm and sound are important.
Can you visualize the illustrations?
Did you use the senses in your story?
Does each sentence move the story along?
Does it past the so what test?
I've been editing one of my picture books - again. This book has changed many, many times. I like the story and I really want it to go somewhere. So, lately I have been looking at it under a magnifying glass. I recently said to myself, so what. So what that this happened in the text, so what the character did this or that. I decided my story needed more substance. The character needed more incentive. The story just needed something else.
So, I went back and looked at it with a more critical eye. I changed it again. In this process I also took out some of my favorite lines, (my babies that I loved), because I realized the story didn't need them. And, you know what, removing those lines didn't hurt me or the story like I thought it would.
I also took it to my writing group again. Among other minor changes, there was one word that they just did not like. They said they could not associate the verb with the noun I was using it with. One spoke up and said, "Now, Janet, listen to what we are saying. We all agree it doesn't fit. You need to change it."
So, after a little brainstorming we came up with the perfect word. And the best way to reword the two sentences.
So, my last suggestion is to put on your tough skin and get to work!
I end this blog post with this thought, all the above is easier said than done. It may be easy to see what is wrong with other manuscripts, but not easy to see what is wrong with 'your' manuscript. You are too close to it. So let other eyes see it, too.
But, if you love writing for children, don't give up. Be optimistic. Keep writing and improving and some day your dream of being published will come true.