BELOW IS AN EXAMPLE OF A DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT OF A CHILDREN’S BOOK MANUSCRIPT. 

EXCEPT FOR IDENTIFYING INFORMATION I HAVE LEFT IT AS IS.

My comments are always in dark pink. I make corrections and give my impressions as I go along…

OK…. My understanding is that there will be vivid and colorful illustrations to go along with the story. If that is the case some description of the characters and the environment is still needed.

As well, most kids won’t know what a truffle is unless Gordon Ramsay is their dad. So some sort of brief explanation of what a truffle is within the context of the story needs to take place.

**I love that this is in rhyming form. Very few children’s authors do this anymore.

The name “Snuffles” is rather common. It sounds like a name we’ve heard many times. It sounds like the kind of name that was made up to create a lot of rhymes with. I think many readers will feel the same way. They’ll probably find it familiar and a bit obvious.

My suggestions would be to use a different name than Snuffles with a food item that rhymes with it. For example: Mr. Grapples/Apples Mr. Bestofus/Lettuce Mr. Zealot/carrot Mr. Mymotto/potato

The names themselves can be a play on words as I’ve demonstrated above. This can give you more of a direction to go in with the story too.

Weave in as many “lessons” and drama as you can. Kids want their imaginations stimulated. You have a very good start here. I know this is the edited down version but right now the story is all about Mr. Snuffles feeling like someone is stealing his truffles and leaving him out of a birthday tea party.

That’s nice but more needs to happen. The stakes need to be raised. Have a strong theme in mind and it will strengthen the story. It’ll give kids more to sink their teeth into.

Your writing reminds me of Dr. Suess’s work. Those books were outstanding. I still remember being read “Green Eggs and Ham” as kid. Your work is similar. It needs to be elevated though. If you look at Dr. Suess’s work, it not only rhymed, but there was a lot of ACTION, as well as, a strong theme/s.

“The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” is a Suess story. We know that wasn’t just a nice, sweet, feel good story. The Grinch tried to steal Christmas from the people of Whoville. He nearly succeeded. It was only they’re faith and belief in love and forgiveness that turned the Grinch’s heart around.

What a magnificent theme to a story! If you can find something that strong to add as the under current of this story… it will be outstanding. I would encourage you to study Suess’s work.

It was a wonderful day for snuffling for truffles

“What a birthday treat!” thought Mr. Snuffles

But whenever he got to a nice little spot

Were there truffles to snuffle? There were…NOT!

He looked in the tree stump’s mossy hollow

“No truffles in there, to snuffle and swallow”

Right now… I’m noticing the consistency with the rhyming tempo is off. The author needs to count the syllables for each line and then create a pattern. It doesn’t have to be as strict as a haiku but this is already kind of all over the place.

For example, your first line of the first verse is 19 syllables long.

The second line of the first verse is 10 syllables long. The first line of the second verse is 17 syllables long. The second line of this second verse is 10 syllables long. Then the beats and the rhythms start to change. It has to be consistent throughout the story.

If not, it weakens the structure, feel and overall tone of the story. Many new writers underestimate the importance of “feel,” “flow,” and “tone” of a story. These things are intangible but affect the reader tremendously even if they can’t articulate it. Something will just seem “off”.

Please keep this in mind.

…And on the wormy woodland floor

-“Not even one truffle, to snuffle and gnaw”

…The mossy old log was empty too

-“Truffle-less! Nothing to snuffle and chew”

Wherever he looked, his truffles were GONE His truffles?? Establish why Mr. Snuffles feels they are

There was something fishy going on… his truffles and we will better understand his frustration.

Is it his land? Does he have a special truffle growing area in the woods? Do people/animals know that? Let us know where he’s at and it will create a strong emotional draw for the reader.

And what he found next was most fishy indeed

In amongst the acorns, roots and seeds

It was a half-snuffled truffle! The rest had been chomped

The ground all around had clearly been stomped!

And from behind the next tree trunk, poking out

Was a long and whiskery wrinkly snout

Quivering and hungrily sniffing the breeze

Snuffling around in the roots and leaves Who’s “snuffling” here? Mr. Snuffles or the mysterious whiskered creature? If it’s the creature then a different verb than “snuffling” needs to be used to differentiate the beasts.

And looking as if it was up to mischief

-Like it might just belong to…A TRUFFLE-THIEF!

So ever so slowly, without making a sound

Mr Snuffles peeked his snout around

To see who owned that wrinkly schnozz

And who the sneaky snaffler was

But when he peeked, there was nobody there

The snout had vanished, into thin air

And behind the tree, nestling bold as brass

Was a half-snuffled truffle, left behind in the grass

So that was that, there was no longer doubt

Half-snuffled truffles and vanishing snouts!

“And muddy footprints!” fumed Mr Snuffles

“Someone’s been helping themselves to MY truffles!” Again…. His truffles? It seems to come out of nowhere within the story. Establish early on that Mr. Snuffles has his territory or that he hunts for truffles in this part of the woods often.

So with no time to lose, and as fast as could be

Mr Snuffles set through the brambles and trees

Down the winding woodland trail

As fast as he could on the truffle-thief’s tail

And no sooner had he turned the first corner

Than who should he meet, but his friend Mr. Snorer What does Mr. Snorer look like? I know there will be pictures but it’s always good to have a brief reference to the characters physicality in the writing. It sounds like Mr. Snorer might be a sloth that lives in the trees in the forest, maybe?

Or maybe he’s a complete fantasy character like Mr. Snuffles. We have some idea as to what Mr. Snuffles looks like though with him rooting around for truffles. Give us just a little something in the words that will connect with the illustrations.

(Looking dressed for a party, coming hurrying by

And awfully smart, in a spotty bow tie) I’m not sure why this info is in brackets as if it’s an aside. The regular wardrobe of Mr. Snorer hasn’t been established yet to determine an aside.

So with no time to lose, Mr Snuffles exclaimed:

“There’s a THIEF on the run!” And began to explain

“Yes it seems, Mr Snorer, there’s a pilfering swine

Who’s been helping himself, to those truffles of mine

I missed him by a whisker, just moments ago

And helping himself to my truffles, you know

It was definitely him, I spotted his snout

From behind that tree, over there, sticking out…

But before he could get any further than that

Mr Snorer gave his pot belly a pat

And with a gulp, and a swallow, shook his head

With bulging eyes, hiccuped, and said:

“What a – hiccup – kerfuffle! Stolen truffles?

You know that I’d help if I could, Mr. Snuffles

But I’m afraid I’ve got somewhere I really must be

-A dear friend’s -hiccup- surprise birthday tea”

Then hicupping again, he said his goodbyes

And set off to give his “friend” the surprise

Without even inviting Mr. Snuffles to go

(Which might’ve been nice, on his birthday you know)

“Very well let him go!” huffed Mr. Snuffles

“See if I care!” and on he shuffled

Secretly wondering who this “friend” might be

And a little bit jealous of their birthday tea

In fact, he was thinking he wouldn’t mind a surprise

When two more friends came hurrying by

It was Gnaw and Gnawma, the Friendly Boars

(Looking all dressed for a party what’s more) This is a good use of an aside. You’ve now established there’s a birthday tea party in the area. So it seems understandable that everyone is more dressed up than usual.

So with no time to lose, Mr Snuffles explained

The stolen-truffle-kerfuffle all over again:

“Yes it seems, Gnaw and Gnawma, there’s a pilfering swine Gnaw and Gnawma are cute names but

Who’s been helping himself to those truffles of mine don’t seem right for Boars. They’re not bad names just not quite right. Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy with the names. You’ve already used some made up words which is great. You can get away with silly names too.

I missed him by a whisker, just moments ago

And helping himself to my truffles, you know…”

But before he could get any further than that

The Boars gave their little pot bellies a pat

And with a gulp, a swallow, and a shake of their heads

With bulging eyes, hiccuped, and said:

“Very sorry – hiccup – to hear that old fruit Keep the spaces the same surrounding the hiccups. This is

Got somewhere to be, we really must shoot a very nit picky point though.

We’d love to help – hiccup – but we can’t you see

Got to dash to a dear friend’s surprise birthday tea!”

Then hiccuping again, they said their goodbyes

And set off to give their friend the surprise

Without even inviting Mr. Snuffles to go Remember to always put a period after the abbreviated Mr.

(Which might’ve been nice, on his birthday you know)

“A dear friend’s party?” Mr Snuffles muttered

“A surprise birthday tea?” he angrily spluttered

“But who on earth could that possibly be?

And why has nobody thought about…ME?

“It’s my birthday too!” He thought with a frown

Feeling very upset, left-out and let down

And thinking what a birthday, this promised to be

Without any friends, and a truffle-less tea!

But pretending, at least, that he wasn’t upset

He put on a brave face, and off he set

Telling himself if his friends wouldn’t help

Then he’d catch the truffle-thief all by himself

And no sooner had he turned the very next bend

That who should he meet but another dear friend

What a stroke of luck, it was Herbert the Hog

-With his little wee hoglet, Herby the Sprog

(And they looked dressed for a party too

Though whose it could be he hadn’t a clue)

So with no time to lose, Mr. Snuffles explained

The stolen-truffle kerfuffle all over again:

“Yes it seems, Herb and Herby, there’s a pilfering swine

Who’s been helping himself to those truffles of mine

I missed him by a whisker, just moments ago

And helping himself to my truffles, you know

I’ve asked Mr Snorer, and the Friendly Boars too

But they aren’t half as helpful, or kind as you…”

But before he could get any further than that

The Hogs gave their little pot bellies a pat

I’m thinking that for the illustrations Hogs and Boars are very close in physicality. You may want to either change one of the couples to a different species or make sure the illustrations clearly differentiates them. Including their physical nature and what they are wearing.

** I must say… it sounds like a good party so far…

And with a gulp, and a swallow, shook their heads

With bulging eyes, hiccuped, and said:

“Very sorry –hiccup- to hear that old bean

This thief sounds sneaky, and frightfully mean

We’d love to help –hiccup– but we’re running late

For the surprise birthday bash…of a very good mate!”

Then hiccuping again, they said their goodbyes

And set off to give their “friend” the surprise

Without even inviting Mr. Snuffles to go

(Which might’ve been nice, on his birthday you know)

“What!!!” Gloomed Mr. Snuffles “They’re going too?

Am I the only one who’s missing this do?”

But who on earth could the party be for?

If Mr. Snorer was going, and the Friendly Boars?

And now it turned out that Herbert the Hog

Would also be going with Herby the Sprog

“Well, with guests like those it’ll be a wonderful tea

It’s just a shame” he moped, “no one thought to ask me!”

Indeed what a shame, and an upsetting day

-For not only had he let the thief get away

But now it turned out all his friends were going

To a surprise party! On his birthday! Without him knowing!

For although he’d bumped into them all by chance

No one had told him at all in advance

About this surprise party, nor who it was for

And he’d had no invite, that much was sure!

So, let down by his friends on every front

-Not to mention the truffleless snuffle hunt

He sniffled out loud it was “Time to head home

To a truffleless birthday… all on his own

In a grumpy, hungry miserable state

And in no kind of mood, to celebrate…

And as he was having these upsetting thoughts

A familiar feeling stopped him short

He wrinkled his snout, and waggled his tail

There was something wafting down the trail

A glorious smell floating through the trees

A wafting whiff, adrift on the breeze

And the closer he got to his own front door

Whatever it was, whiffed all the more

His keen little eyes began brightly twinkling

His whiskery snout began twitching and wrinkling

(Whatever it was, was deliciously stinking!)

As it wafted whiffily from under his door

And out of his kitchen windows some more

Down the garden path, and over the gate

His quivering nostrils could hardly wait

And into the wood where the toadstools sprout

Until at long last it reached his snout!

Well! Imagine how he responded to this

The look in his eye was one of pure bliss

And in a truffle drunk and trance-like state,

With his snout he dreamily nudged open the gate

And so wonderfully smelly and fine was that stink

That not even once did he stop to think

Of why there were truffles inside his house

Truffle snufflers, you see, aren’t known for their nose??

Indeed, why was his kitchen full to the brim

With truffles that hadn’t been snuffled by him?

And another snuffler might’ve asked on the spot,

If there was someone inside, or not?

A truffle-thief, perhaps who shouldn’t be there?

But Mr. Snuffles simply did not care!

(And given that odour, the chances were slim

That such sensible thoughts would occur to him)

So instead as if under its hypnotic spell

Mr. Snuffles followed that wafting smell

Down the path, and towards his front door-

And swatted it open with one of his paws

OK…. it took awhile for him to get down that trail and into his house. Just keep in mind there has to be a lot of action. Dr. Suess does this well through not only his words but his illustrations.

And peeked his snout and tusks around

You’ll never guess who, or what he found….

“SURPISE!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. SNUFFLES!!!”

As he snuck his head around the door

It was him all along, the party was for

And there in his kitchen were all of his friends

Who hadn’t forgotten him in the end

As he shook his snout slowly, in disbelief

He realised his friends were “the truffle thiefs

And they’d been snuffling for truffles, all day together

For his surprise party! “Well I never!”

And as for all of those half-eaten clues?

Well, they’d helped themselves to a truffle or two

And the wrinkly snout, behind that tree?

It was Mr Snorer’s! He’d munched two or three!

But all these here were for Mr. Snuffles

And that was a mountainous pile of truffles

Yes he couldn’t believe his gleaming eyes

Truffle pastries, puddings and pies

And the biggest cake he’d ever seen

A cake beyond his truffliest dreams

Over-flowing and dripping with truffles

…Happy Birthday Mr Snuffles!

OK… there are a lot of great things going on in this story. The rhyming is very good.

However, it does seem like most of the time you are trying to adapt your story to the rhyme rather than visa versa. This is tricky.

For example; Haikus can be incredibly powerful because their structure is so severe. As a writer you have to be extremely disciplined in how you use your words and still write an effective poem.

This story is not unlike that. Unfortunately, the rhyming tempo and rhythm are off a lot of the time. It takes away from the reading experience. Read it out loud yourself and see how it sounds. It’s a bit awkward to say aloud smoothly.

Dr. Suess’s stuff was so rhythmic they put music to a lot of his books and made short videos of them.

Below is a link to a Green Eggs and Ham video. The video takes the word of Green Eggs and Ham and uses them for the lyrics. They didn’t manipulate the melody to fit the story. They didn’t have to. The rhythm was already in the writing.

Your work here could get to that point. I encourage you to keep striving for that. I suspect you have a great appreciation and understanding of music. Bring more of that to your writing.

You’ll notice the characters in the video say the same words and phrases a lot. There is a reason for that. The story is about a grumpy creature who thinks they don’t like green eggs and ham.

The grumpy creature also doesn’t like Sam who tries to get him to eat them. In the end the creature tries the food and likes it, but not before a lot of drama and action happens.

Strive to inject more action and drama into this story while sticking closely to a stricter rhyming pattern and you’ll have a winner. Good job! I wish you all the best. I hope my editorial review was helpful.

Link to Green Eggs and Ham video:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=dr+seuss&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=BE34508041CF15AAA50BBE34508041CF15AAA50B

Wishing you much imagination…

Other posts you might like are:

Developmental Editing Example – “Bedtime Battle”

“Spike’s Planet” – A Difficult Edit For Metered Rhyming Verse For Kids

Love Old Fairytales? Me too… take a look at this Favorites List

Adelina’s Wings – Children’s story book edit

Thank you and I wish you much imagination, Renee


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