In all honesty it didn't take long to write Eddy Finds a Family.
When I joined Michael Heppell's Write That Book Masterclass and decided I was going to focus on writing an adoption book, the words seemed to flow naturally. As you may well know I have first hand experience of adopting a child so that definitely helped when writing a story that was going to help children understand the topic better. Within two weeks the base of the story was down on paper as a first draft. Every night I would read it to my son and husband and tweak it some more based on their response and feedback. Now don't get me wrong, children's picture books may be short on words but there are many factors and detail that need to be right to make them work. They have to be engaging and simple to understand and most of all have colourful characters the children can relate to. I realised when I first started writing I needed to make sure I was writing for a child and not an adult so any complicated words would have to go. The online google thesaurus became my helpful companion and many a time I used it to look for a simple word to explain something. I found I was repeating words as well and was told to limit the use of 'that' 'very' and 'really'. All good learning thats for sure.
Looking back now I am actually amazed at how much the text changed over six months. There was some detail I removed as the illustrations would explain that in a better way. Like Frank owning a fish shop and Flossy being a fitness instructor.
The hardest part was getting the more complex pages to capture what I wanted to say. I found that difficult and there was a lot of editing to get it right. I would read it to my son to make sure he understood what I was trying to say. Some pages have more text than others as those parts of the story just needed more detail to be able to tell them properly. At first I wasn't sure about it as I didn't want the pages too overloaded with text but I realised it was important to get the right balance.
Also I found once the illustrations started to come to life then the text could be adapted, changed and reduced down a lot. Some of the illustrations were easy to pull together and Stephanie had a great talent at knowing exactly how I wanted them to look. The hardest pages to get right were the middle ones, where Eddy was in emu overdrive or when he was pulling away from Felicity Frog. Sometimes it can be difficult to capture a story in just one image. It took time and much fine tuning to get those right. There is no doubt Stephanie has great patience.
If I could give any tips for writing a book then they would be:
- always do a little every day
- take your time and don't rush to finish
- carry a note book everywhere you go (and leave by your bed)
- read, write, edit, repeat - Michael Heppell's great advice
- read the story out loud many times and get others to read it to you
- find friends to help you edit as you go (buy them a drink as a thank you)
- find an accountability group to help keep you motivated and engaged
- take a step away from it for a while and revisit in one or two weeks time
- have an insight into your target audience
I have definitely found my love for writing again. English was one of my all time favourite lessons at school. I love where stories can take you and how it allows your imagination to go where ever it wants. Even writing these blogs once a week really inspires me to do more. I love telling a story, capturing peoples attention and feeling the excitement for the next one. I hope you enjoy them too.