What does War & Peace and Harry Potter have in common? Words. Lots of them. Thousands in fact. In both cases the end result are epic novels containing a plethora of words to convey the author's dream story. Each word artfully placed to draw the reader into another place and time until the author releases them with a satisfactory conclusion.
But do you really think those stories started out that way?
First drafts are called that for a reason. It gives the writer a chance to not hold back. To let their creativity flow onto paper or screen until there are huge boulders of story line lying around. Writers, especially beginner writers, should not attempt to polish that first draft at the same time they are writing it. The chipping away and culling of unnecessary words will come later. First drafts are simply a time for unleashing your imagination and watching where it takes you.
Next comes the revisions and rewrites. A writer begins to chip away and polish that first draft into something more concrete. Shaping and rearranging those words until a sharper vision of that writer's dream comes into focus. They smooth the edges of the story line and invite others to help in the process. This is done with the knowledge that it will take time to uncover the final publishable product.
Picture book writers don't have the luxury of dealing with boulders for long. The constraints of writing for a younger audience demands that we create great works of art with the least words possible. These pebbles of creation must carry our dreams onto paper in such a way as to leave our mark on the reader's minds long after the story is finished. This takes time. Often time we don't really have. And yet we continue to drive ourselves to chip away, always polishing our work until one day we stop. We realize that to polish it any more would make our story so small that it might not survive on its own. It's a delicate balance to determine how small is small.
Finally there comes that moment when all of our wishes, hopes, and dreams are carved onto those rocks. We kiss them goodbye and send them out into the world for others to enjoy. We think about the wonderful things that might be built with our pebbles of creation. How the lives of our readers might be changed for a moment or even a life time for having read our words. And sometimes we are pleasantly surprised with what others do with our polished rocks.
What great boulders will you craft into polished pebbles today?