Monday, 2 September 2019

Digging through it by Jane Clarke

On Saturday, I helped excavate a small test pit with my local archaeology group. It occurred to me that editing the first draft of a picture book text is a bit like being on a dig. 
  1. At the start, it's hard to see what's there. You begin to strip away at it.

2.  Layers are essential, but some layers just need removing, like this corrugated iron sheet. 

If something’s blocking the flow of your text, cut it out - even if it is easier to leave it in there and walk away!

3.You don’t want to miss anything, so sieve through it carefully. 

4. You are likely to discover many broken things. 

Can anything be pieced together?  Discard a lot. Keep some. Either way, preserve a record. You might want to look at things again sometime.
5.  Remember it all started with the bedrock. Which in the case of our dig was waterlogged clay, but in a picture book is the theme of your text. Don’t lose sight of it.
6. It's hard work, but it's fun, especially if your join in with others who share the madness.

If you're looking for like-minded and helpful people, check out the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Jane was once an archaeologist, but is now a full time writer. Her latest picture book is Leap Frog, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup. For those who are interested, the test pit revealed a lot of rubbish - but also 3 shards of fifteenth century earthenware, 2 of late Anglo- Saxon pottery and a worked flint (probably Mesolithic). There was no sign of any structure. The dig was carefully recorded on a University of Leicester data base.


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