The book’s subtitle says it all: “How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories.”
Asher could have simply told us how, as do many writers, teachers and editors.Instead, this teacher, editor, playwright, and author wisely chose to show us how, via the generously-shared manuscript drafts of published books and stories, so we could literally and figuratively see for ourselves how the requisite process of revision works.
“Come join writers at work,” Asher writes in her book’s Introduction, “professional, published authors in the process of making choices, taking wrong turns, pursuing false starts, backtracking, regrouping, rethinking, re-envisioning, and revising. Again and again. And again.”
And, she reminds us, “Please leave behind all notions that writing fiction is quick and easy, and that writing for young readers is the cushiest job of all.”
Asher thoughtfully organizes her book by formats and audience:
(1) picture books;
(2) short stories;
(3) books for young readers – i.e. easy-to-reads and early chapter books; and
(4) books for older readers – i.e. middle grade and young adult fiction.
Respective representative titles include Kate McMullan's I Stink!, Judy Cox's Highlights story "Becca, the Nutcracker Mouse," Johanna Hurwitz’s A Llama in the Family and Brenda Ferber’s Julia’s Kitchen.
Asher grounds each title with a relevant overview, livens the presentation with author comments and concludes each section with a relevant editor and/or agent interview.
Her Nine Essential Story Questions that guide each manuscript’s crafting beg to be borrowed, applied and re-used.
Elements of Narrative. Language use. Reader considerations. Final line-edits.
Re-visioning a manuscript is all-encompassing.
“Revision,” Asher writes. “Love it or hate it, if you want to write for publication, it’s going to be a fact of your life.”
Reading and studying all twenty-one manuscripts not only guarantees an instant “I-get-it-now!” response; it’s certain to return us to our own work, buoyed and smarter.
I learned of Writing it Right! while Sandy Asher was gathering writers' manuscripts for her text; the Teaching Author in me requested a review copy, then counted down the days 'til its publication.