Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Evolution of...GOLDI ROCKS

Okay, way back when... I posted a before and after stanza from THREE NINJA PIGS to give you an idea of how rhyming picture books evolve.

I thought it might be fun to do the same thing for GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS. 

GOLDI was much more of a struggle than PIGS.  It went through many more incarnations. 

In the first draft, I just try to get the skeletal frame down.  Roughly what content will fall in each stanza.  I do try to make it rhyme, but I don't worry about the meter at this stage.

Perfecting meter can take hours tweaking.  I don't want to take the time until I know I have the content right.  Stanzas may have to combined or cut completely.  So, I wait until I can take a look at the big picture.  I may LOVE a stanza on its own, but it may not work within the larger context of the story.

Here is Goldi entering the Bears' house:

She heard the bear's stereo blaring
Without hesitation, she knocked
"It's such a great oldie!
"I'll join in," cried Goldi.
She soon found the door was unlocked.

We later realized, we didn't want Goldi to be enticed by music. So it turned into this:

She spotted their quaint little cottage.
"Oh what a sweet house!" Goldi cried.
She rang the front bell
Is that porridge I smell?
"I'll just take a small peek inside!"

The story turned out to be too long, so we had to combine this stanza with the previous one in which the bears set out to find a singer.

They set out to find a soprano
Soon after they left, a girl knocked
"Is that porridge I smell?
Gee, that would be swell.”
She checked and the house was unlocked.

We save all drafts. You never know when you might want to return to an earlier rhyme (knocked, unlocked)

Sometimes when you are revising, you have to kill your darlings. My favorite stanza in the whole story got cut :(

The Bears kept on ruling out singers:
"Too fancy." "Too dance-y." "Too plain."
While they judged in the square…
a young girl with blond hair
was wandering down the Bears' Lane.

I could see the three bears sitting at "The Judges" table like Paula, Randy, and Simon!  I loved it, but I had to let it go! 

We have dozens and dozens of drafts.  And we are not done.  Goldi sold to Putnam, and our editor will no doubt want at least one more round of edits.


Tiffany Strelitz Haber said...

what an awesome post! it really IS fun to look back at first drafts and see how far the stanzas have come. in this case your originals were already fab!

RJ Clarken said...

Corey - how awesome! Another fantastic pb by YOU!!!

I hear you about the metrics. I can do rhyme and content easily, but metrics often takes a beating in the process. And it really does take hours of tweaking!

But I think you nailed it. ☼

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Wow, Corey! This is fascinating stuff. I've been writing picture books for years now (still unpublished), but never rewrote one completely.

What a revelation! Now I realize I need to tear them apart and rewrite them, not just tinker with them endlessly without changing much. Most of mine are not rhyming (you know how it is at these conferences - the editors always say "Don't write rhyming picture books.")

But your rhymes are fantastic. Yes, I know the importance of killing your darlings, but still wish you could have kept the stanza about the bear judges. That's funny!

storyqueen said...

I love seeing the stuff that goes into a story (and the stuff that gets cut!)

You are so right to save all versions....I have been known to go back and retrieve something I thought I didn't want anymore on occasion.

Yay for rhyming picture books!


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oh, this is cool. I love seeing how you changed it, although it's wonderful in each version.
And the tip about working on content first is really useful. I only tried one picture book and that would have been labor-saving had I done it first.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

wow awesome to see the evolution. cant wait ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow, this was pretty neat to see how the story eveolved. Thanks for sharing it.

Susan R. Mills said...

Fun post! I love the stanza you had to cut, but I know what you mean about things needed to work with the big picture. Still, it's so hard to cut those little darlings.

Megan K. Bickel said...

Very interesting post! I am amazed at how much my stories change from draft to draft and I'm not even messing with rhyme and meter!

Hardygirl said...

I love watching the progression of stories. It's amazing how much tweaking it takes ...


Christie Wright Wild said...

Great post! Loved the revisions. Good advice about waiting on the meter. It comes last for me, too. And I only have one rhyming picture book (kind of) manuscript.

Anonymous said...

I love posts like these. I am a huge fan of behind-the-scene skinny.

Can't wait for Goldi!

Carla said...

Wow..this is inspiring! The back-stage process is intense and I don't often get a good look at it. Congratulations on another sell!


Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love seeing the evolution of stories, especially PBs! Thanks for sharing this, Corey. :-)

Sherrie Petersen said...

I love seeing these different versions! Can't wait to hold it in my hand :)

Julie Hedlund said...

Thanks for giving us an inside look into your process. It's very similar for me. I, too, religiously save all of my drafts and often use bits and pieces of things I've previously cut.

And you are so right - wait on meter until the end. I learned that the hard way.

Linda White recently advised me to outline a rhyming manuscript first simply by stating what each stanza will accomplish in the story. I haven't tried it yet, but it seems like one way to prevent writing too many extraneous stanzas.

Sylvia Liu said...

How fun to see the evolution of that stanza. Love getting a peak behind the curtain.