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Tips for Editing Your Children's Book

Part of the Writing Children's Books For Dummies Cheat Sheet

At some point after you have a solid draft of the children's book you're writing, you must begin the editing process. Here's a quick overview of the salient points to keep in mind.

  • If a sentence doesn't contribute to plot or character development, delete it.

  • Make sure your characters don't all sound the same when they speak.

  • If you have a page or more of continuous dialogue, chances are it needs tightening.

  • When changing place or time, or starting a new scene or chapter, provide brief transitions to keep your story moving smoothly.

  • Make sure to keep the pace moving from action to action, scene to scene, chapter to chapter.

  • If you find yourself using a lot of punctuation (!!!), CAPITAL LETTERS, italics, or bold, chances are your words aren't working hard enough for you.

  • When you can find one word to replace two or more words, do it.

  • Be careful with changing tenses midstream. If your story is told in the past tense, stick with it throughout. If present tense, then stick with that. Be consistent.

  • Watch excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and long descriptive passages.

  • After you choose a point of view for a character, stick to it.

  • If your character hasn't changed at the end of your story, chances are he isn't yet fully fleshed out.

  • If your character talks to himself or does a lot of wondering aloud, he needs a friend to talk to.

  • If you're bored with a character, your reader will be, too.

  • If you can't tell your story in three well-crafted sentences: the first one covering the beginning, the second one alluding to the climax (the middle), and the last one hinting at the ending — you may not have a complete story yet.

  • If you find yourself overwriting because you're having trouble expressing exactly what you mean, sit back and say it aloud to yourself, and then try again.

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