PICTURE BOOK FOCUS Top three reasons why you should rip it all up!

Natascha Biebow shares tips on how to create 
a sparkly and fresh new book that zings!


Sometimes you know deep in your gut that your book is not working, it's not good enough. It will be fine, you tell yourself. I just need to tinker some more with the opening and finesse that bit of dialogue and . . . and . . .

BUT really? You know, it’s not right, so LISTEN!

It’s the new year – a time for new starts. You’re back at your desk, tinkering away with your manuscript. In the spirit of fresh starts, ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH to rip up the old manuscript and start again?

Here are the top 3 reasons why you should do this:

You started the book in the wrong place! 

Yes, sometimes you have to write a whole bunch of stuff to figure out the story’s problem, the plot, the characters, what gives . . . and really now you know all that stuff, you have to RIP UP all that preamble and start from the real nuggets you’ve discovered in this process. Many manuscripts I’ve come across should start around spread 3. Should yours?

You’ve figured it all out, but the writing is a lot of telling and it is flat. 

Even you are bored reading it! So, now be brave. RIP IT UP and start again. This time, write it afresh from a place of knowing. You can now be that main character, really truly in her shoes. The difference? Your story will have VOICE.

  You’ve been chasing the wrong story. 

While you’ve written all those drafts, you’ve been waiting for inspiration, then a-ha! Here’s the true nugget, the story you really want to tell, the one that will grab young readers. But . . . what about all that stuff I’ve already written you ask? Well, RIP IT UP and start again! Boy, will it grip readers more this time.

Of course, I know, it’s TERRIFYING!

Here you are, now, 


With a big blank piece of paper.

I get it.

But not really - it's all inside you still.


BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Revision is hard.

OK, so you don’t have to trash it completely – you can put it in a folder in your ‘graveyard’ file. (Just in case . . .!)

But, importantly, TRY IT – BE BRAVE – you might surprise yourself!

Sharpen your pencil, and sit bum on seat. Stare the blank page down and...


What will you discover?


Natascha Biebow is an experienced editor, mentor, author and coach, who loves working with authors and illustrators at all levels to help them to shape their stories. www.blueelephantstoryshaping.com
Check out the Cook Up a Picture Book Coaching Courses.
She has been awarded an MBE for her services to children's book writers and illustrators as Regional Advisor of SCBWI British Isles

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