Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Chicken's Cooking!

Okay, so it's been a while since I talked about a WIP.    When I last left off, my little chicken was having some problems.  And not the good kind that you throw at your character to make the story more compelling.  That was back in March. I am happy to report that he is doing much better. But picture books (especially those written in rhyme) are very labor intensive.  Becky and I can sometimes spend two hours on one line!

For any PB writer who missed it, Mem Fox's Green Sheep Secrets is a must-read!   She makes this point very well when she talks about the last stanza of Where Are the Green Sheep.

It originally read:

Where IS that green sheep?
Let’s turn the page softly, and take a peep. . . .
Here’s the green sheep,
Fast asleep…!

But she goes on to explain it was missing an essential element that she now recognizes as "solace."

It was re-written many times. In the end, a single word provided the solace of togetherness in the last lines—the use of ‘our’ instead of ‘the’:
Where IS that green sheep?
Turn the page quietly—let’s take a peep. . . .
Here’s our green sheep,
Fast asleep…!

Amazing, how one tiny word made such a difference, huh?

Anyway, back to our chicken.  We pretty much had him fried, baked, and fricasseed.  But in the end, the foxes decide to make him into chicken stew!

We started with the super BLAH

     When darkness falls, we'll have a meal
     of tasty chicken stew

and revised until we had

     Tonight we'll feast on finger-lickin'
     chunky chicken stew

Now, we're cooking, baby.


storyqueen said...

Ah yes, the difference one word can make!!

I love the new stanza.

It's chicktastic!


Jeff King said...

Great point!!!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

What a clever post, Corey! And your new chicken stanza sounds delicious. Does that make me a fox? Or just hungry? Hahahaha.

Julie Hedlund said...


I LOVE this post. I have spent up to 8 hours on a single stanza of "the WIP that will not be named," so it's comforting to hear that other rhymers go through the same trauma. Love the Mem Fox example.

Also love your revision! Would be glad to read a draft when you feel ready. Always love and learn from your stuff.

Beth Coulton said...

Love it! Something to cluck about!

Lauren F. Boyd said...

You're got a great line there! And I agree: writing in rhyme is very labor-intensive - sometimes more so that writing in prose.

Hope you're doing well and had a great 4th!

Hardygirl said...

Mouth watering and amazing-sounding!!

I think many people don't realize how precise and how subtle picture book writing has to be. Great post!

Carla said...

Oooh...I want that chicken! I love how your new stanza just rolls off the tongue. And what a great illustration of how much one word can say!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Wow! The second one is great! Can't wait to read the book :)

Ishta Mercurio said...

Oh, yeah - that stanza's on fire now! What an improvement!

And it's true - sometimes one tiny word can make such a difference. Thanks for sharing!