Hello and thank you for ordering my children’s book editing service! I like to go through a writer’s work as any first time reader would. My comments and critiques will reflect that. My words will always be in pink. Please note any deletions against the original. OK… let’s get started…
Always include a working title with the manuscript. I know the document itself has the title but you wan to connect to the story. You can always change it later… in essence… name your baby.
Curley Merley and The Golden Bears
Curley Merley was a sleepy little girl; it was the first day of third grade, only five minutes until the school bus picks her up and she was still buried underneath a pile of pillows and blankets. Her two younger sisters, Charlotte and Cami were ready with their backpacks pulling her sister’s legs out of bed.
OK…. I see where you’re trying to go with this but the execution lacks cohesion and comprehension.
**It was the first day of third grade and sleepy little Curley Merley was still buried underneath a pile of pillows and blankets. Her two younger sisters, Charlotte and Cami, already had their backpacks ready to go. They each pulled on one of Curley’s legs to get her out of bed. The school bus was only five minutes away! **
The children’s book editing example above has the same information just rearranged differently. Can you see how it reads more smoothly? Also, stories are almost always told in past tense as they have already happened.
Curley’s mom yelled from the kitchen, “The bus will be here in 10 seconds Curley and I am not driving you to school!”
***Please study up on how to write dialogue. Each character’s dialogue goes on a separate line. ***
Charlotte and Cami rushed down the stairs, kissed their mom goodbye and headed out the door to catch the bus.
Curley’s mom sternly counted down from ten, “Nine, eight, seven…”
By the time she got to the number three, her daughter’s puffy, curly red hair come bouncing down the stairs.
“Curley, you need to brush that hair! It is your first day of school and people are going to think you have a birds nest in there!”
Curley smiled at her mom with sleepy eyes, grabbed her lunch box, threw her a kiss and flew out the door and onto the bus.
Curley was as sparkly and fun as a firecracker. She played hard, studied hard, she was loud, dramatic, funny, but most of all she was happy. She didn’t have a lot of friends at school but everyone knew who she was. How could you miss her puffy red curly hair walking around the hallways.
OK… I understand what you’re trying to do in this paragraph.
However, you’re just telling us who Curley is… you want to show us. Get descriptive. Get specific. Give us action. Show us how sparkly and fun she it. What does she do and say? Also, we’re wondering why she has few friends if she’s so sparkly and fun. On the one hand it’s intriguing. On the other hand a bit frustrating because we don’t know how Curley is the way she is. You’ve just told us… you haven’t shown us. Did I make that clear for this children’s book edit?
Curley was particularly interested on starting the third grade because of this year’s school play: Goldie Locks. Third graders were able to audition for the leading role and she could not be more excited about it. She had been practicing the role of Goldi all summer, and walked around the house reciting her lines over and over – she was ready.
OK… again this is intriguing but you’ve just told us about it not shown us.
Why not have her audition on the first day and include the dialogue that gets us there? Give us action… always lean toward telling a story with movement, dialogue and action. Take what you’re telling us and turn it into action. See?
First period was Math, her least favorite subject. She was really good at it, but found her teacher, Mr. Dunn to be boring and gray. In fact she names him Mr. Grayshine since he reminded him of a winter day. She spent that period reciting her lines for Goldie Locks in her head so that she is ready for next period- Drama with Mrs. Myers. The bell rang and Curley grabbed her books, put her shoes back on (she likes to take them off during class) and sprinted to drama class.
OK… I like where this is going.. You’re creating an interesting character in Curley. However, now you have to craft how you related this information to your reader.
**Curley’s stocking feet dangled above her shoes under her desk in first period Math class. She was really good at math but her teacher, Mr. Dunn, was so boring. Her secret nickname for him was Mr. Grayshine because he was like a gray winter’s day. She occupied her thoughts by reciting her Goldilocks lines in her head. Next period was Drama with Mrs. Meyers. She wanted to be ready for her audition! When the bell rang, she grabbed her shoes and her books and sprinted to Drama class.**
Do you see how the information is basically the same but set up differently? It flows better this way…. start thinking in terms of economy of words and how a sentence flows when read. Read it out loud. See if the words kind of stumble out or flow.
This is the kind of information I like to offer for a children’s book edit.
“Good morning class,” Mrs. Myers said with her high pitched English accent.
She continued, “Today is a special day, not just because it is the first day of school, but because we get to cast for our school play for this year. Goldilocks and the Six Bears. Now this is not the regular story, it has a twist, and you will discover it once I give you the script.”
OK… the Six Bears??? The title has “the Golden Bears” in it. It just a little confusing at this point. A reader wants to know they are “getting” it.
Curley’s heart started pumping and she had close her eyes really hard until she saw stars. That always calmed her down during exciting moments.
The above is a very good example of how small, specific details can give us insight and understanding of a character.
Good job. Although, I will say the wording is still a bit awkward but your creativity is good.
“You will all get a chance to audition, so please write on this paper your name next to the role you would like to have,” said Mrs. Myers while passing around the list.
OK… please update yourself on how to write dialogue. It’s too involved for me to go in here but there are some fussy rules to stick to. My edits concentrate on the story more than proofreading and you are doing well with that.
Curley was getting impatient as she usually sat in the back.
Or **Curley sat in the back continually kicking a socked foot against her chair. ** Don’t tell us what a character is feeling show us.
She was thinking about what Mrs. Myers said about the twist in the story and got nervous. She had been practicing the lines of the original story all summer! Ok… you must make it clearer right away that this is a different version than the original “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” that Curley and everyone was expecting. It’s an important moment in the story. So let us know immediately that the “twist” in the story is really a surprise. You could also add a few lines of “thought” to let us know what Curley is thinking and inform us of the change.
Finally the list comes around and she sees next to the role of Goldilocks in parenthesis: (This is a boy role- only boys can audition).
Different character dialogue goes on separate lines.
“Yes Curley I understand. However, as I mentioned earlier this story is not your usual fairytale. But…”
Before Mrs. Meyers could finish her sentence, Curley ran up to the front of the room, took one of the boys caps, placed it on her crazy hair and said on a deep voice, “I protest Mrs. Meyers!”
Make the class react to that demonstration of protest. That’s funny!
“Well Curley, if you had let me finish my sentence I would have told you that if you really want to audition for that role, you can. However, please read the script I placed on your desk and you can decide later.”
The class stayed silent as they all read the script. Goldilocks was not the story we all know of a girl that walks into the bears’ house. No, it was the story of an explorer who’s name was Alexander Goldilocks who travels across many lands following the clues from his fathers diary, in search of six golden bear claws that will help him finish the time machine his father began. Curley’s eyes got wider and wider with each word, her dream has come true. If she got this role, she will be an explorer of the world and a time traveler, the two things she has always wanted to do.
OK… this is interesting. Show us Curley’s thoughts on this.
Eg. **Wow, if I got this role I’d get my dream of becoming a world explorer and time traveler. I’ve got to be Goldilocks!**
FYI – A character’s thoughts are always italicized and never in quotations.
The auditions started and Curley insisted to go first. She was a natural; her voice was strong and perfectly pitched. Her face expressions could be of a cartoon itself. Her body language was intense and of a warrior explorer.
SHOW us this! Don’t just tell us. A little telling is OK but you want to give your audience a real sense of who these people are. You’ve created a very interesting character here. We want to go on this journey with her.
So for this children’s book edit I’d like it if you could show us what this looks like in Curley’s behavior… please!
Mrs. Myers was almost teary when Curley finished her reading and clapped with emotion.
“Marvelous Curley. Marvelous performance!” she said while all the boys looked at Curley with grumpy eyes.
Mrs. Meyers continued, “Now don’t worry boys, you will all get a chance to audition.”
As the hour went on, and all the kids auditioned, Curley daydreamed about her role as an explorer. How she will fight with dragons and will trek through mountains to find the claws. Finally the bell rang and Mrs. Myers announced that the roles will be posted by the end of the day.
That school day could not have been any longer. When that last bell rang, Curley flew out of Science class forgetting her backpack and shoes. She looked at the post on the hallway wall and there it was. Her name next to Alexander Goldilocks!
Curley jumped up and down, swirled in circles, and laughed out loud. She was going to be the best explorer and time traveler ever!
As she ran into her house that day, screaming to her mom the news, she realized something had changed.
No one was home, there was no dinner being cooked, both cars were on the driveway and there was an old book sitting on the kitchen table with a note on top.
“Curley, if you are looking at this note is because your father’s time machine has worked. We are traveling very far back in time to save the Golden Bears from extinction. We should be back by the time you girls get home from school, but if we are not something went wrong. I need you to take this book to Uncle Ted and he will know what to do. Keep your sisters safe and with you at all times, and Curley, do not do anything silly. Love, Mom”
Brilliant! I love how you’ve linked this up.
“No way,” Curley said as she opened the book. It had maps, instructions, and pieces of what looked like a puzzle.
“Curley…where is mom and dad?” her little sister Cami said.
“Don’t worry Cami, we are going to find them.”
She closed the book, told her sisters to pack their backpacks with clothes, took the book and off they went to start their adventure.
“Where are we going Curley?” Little Charlotte said as she looked up to her sister with her big blue eyes and red cheeks. Nice description.
“We are going to get Andy so that he can help us find mom and dad,” said Curley in a cheerful tone.
“But I’m hungry Curley,” Charlotte said pulling down her sister’s arm.
“Yea me too,” said Cami as she made a grumpy face.
“Oh, Mrs.Walker always has something yummy on the stove. Andy will feed us. Come on let’s hurry before it gets dark.”
So Andy is the uncle right? Who’s Mrs. Walker? Wait… It’s Uncle Ted.
Please clear this up. You don’t want anyone wondering where they are going. I thought they were headed to the uncle’s house and now it seems they are going to Andy’s place.
For this children’s book edit we are looking for clarity.
Andy Walker was Curley’s bestest of friends. They were inseparable since age 5 when they met in kindergarten.
Andy was a normal boy. He liked bicycles, skateboards, soccer, and trains. He could tell you all about them so don’t get him started. When he was inside, he had big green eyes, but they turned golden like honey when out in the sun. Curley knew then that he wasn’t a normal boy, he could see things others couldn’t and he will be a valuable friend to an explorer. OK… again interesting info on Andy but it’s written very awkwardly.
The girls ran down the street to Andy’s house and found him outside playing fetch with his dog Meatball, a big furry brown Labradoodle with long curly hair that covered his eyes. Be careful of run on sentences. This could be split in to two sentences for this children’s book edit.
“Andy! No time to explain. We need supplies. Peanut butter sandwiches, apple juice, and whatever your mom is cooking tonight. Hurry!” Curley said as Meatball’s wet kisses attacked her. Or **as Meatball attacked her with wet kisses.**
See the difference?
“Okaaaay!” Andy said while cleaning his glasses with his shirt. He had learned with time not to question Curley since she always had a plan and she was always right (according to her).
Andy packed the supplies in his red Lego backpack, told his mom he was going over to Curley’s to do homework and off they go.
No commas before “and.” Remember to tell the story in past tense.
“Where are we going?” Andy asked puzzled.
“We have to find Uncle Ted and give him this book. He will know what to do to find my parents. Don’t ask too many questions Walker, just follow me.” OK… I’m going to let you change the dialogue punctuation from here on in for this children’s book edit….
As the four of them arrived to Uncle Ted’s house they realized he was not home. The lights were out, the car was not in the garage, and the doors were locked.
-Curley- Cami said pulling down on Curley’s arm – We are hungry, can we eat now?
-Okay- Curley said smiling at her sisters.
As they sat down on the grass in the back of Uncle Ted’s house Curley realizes there a huge bear paw prints all around them and they have a slight golden glare to them.
-Walker! Curley jumps up and points to the paws. – The Golden Bear paws! They were here! We need to find them! Pack it up everybody; we are headed in that direction- Curley said as she pointed into the woods where the paw prints formed a golden trail.
OK… great segue into finding the bear prints and getting us moving along on the story! Again please note previous use of punctuation for dialogue.
They walked into a lush, thick, green forest. It smelled like pine and eucalyptus trees with a hint of coconuts. They have never been behind Uncle Ted’s house and they were amazed at the beauty of it. ??? They’ve never been behind their Uncle Ted’s house?? The forest smelled like pine, eucalyptus and coconut. It’s unusual but confusing. There doesn’t seem to be any place on Earth where those three smells would come together naturally.
Please don’t confuse us. This is going well. If you introduce info like this it has to be connected/explained to some extent or the reader won’t understand. You don’t want us questioning things like this. It pulls us out of the story.
As they followed the golden trail they see a wooden yellow house with a big golden door. The paw prints became golden dust that followed through the door.
-Shhhhh – Curley whispered looking to her sisters. I will let you correct the dialogue punctuation through to the end. Thanks.
Curley opened the giant door and sent Andy first. Andy walked into the wooden cabin and gasped. Curley rushed in and found six giant golden bears sitting by the fireplace.
-Curley! What in the world are you doing here?! – Uncle Ted said surprised from the kitchen.
The girls rushed in to hug their uncle with such relief and confusion. ???
They are relieved? It’s unclear why.
-How did you find us girls? And why are you not at home? – Uncle Ted said.
Curley looked up to the bears surrounding them in astonishment.
-Wow- she whispered. – Uncle Ted, here. – She gives him the book and her mother’s note. – Where are my parents?
-Oh geez – Uncle Ted sat next to the coffee table and shook his head while holding the book and his sister’s note.
-Curley, your mom and dad went back in time with your father’s time machine to the year 1924. They are probably somewhere in Asia, where these bears are from. Girls, these six bears are the only ones left in the entire planet. Scientists thought they became extinct back in the 1940’s when no one could find traces of any golden dust.
Uncle Ted explained that hunters captured the bears for their golden paws as they expelled golden dust.
“What they didn’t know is that when a Golden bear is not happy and free their golden dust goes away and their life goes too.”
-Your parents went back to 1924 – Ted continued- to find the bears and warn them of what is going to happen if they do not cover their golden paws. Your father invented a special shoe that looks like a paw – Ted pointed to the bears in the room wearing what looked like a brown boot.
Ted opened the book and showed them the graphics his fathered made of the boot. OK.. this is great info Ted is giving here. I would suggest showing his personality more. Give us small descriptions in between the words of how he says the words and what he looks like as he says them. We don’t have a physical description of him. Always give your reader a sense of what your characters look like.
-But Uncle Ted, why are they not back yet? – Charlotte said with frightened eyes.
-Yes Uncle Ted, tell us. – Cami ran over to him and hugged him.
-Look!! – Andy pointed to the bears as they were vanishing one by one into a golden cloud.
-Alas!!!- Uncle Ted shouted. – it worked! They did it! They have saved the bears from extinction!
-What’s happening? –Curley said loudly.
-These bears are not supposed to be here if they are not extinct. They are probably going a land far far away where they live happily together with the other bears. Your parents have saved them!
-Yay! Yay! And Yay! The five of them jumped up and down hugging one another in laughter.
***** – Use something like this or words to indicate there is a complete break in scenery and time for this children’s book edit…
-Curley….psssst. Curley! Wake up!! You are going to get in trouble!- Andy said while pulling one of her curls.
Curley looked up and opened her eyes trying to make out where she was. She saw her English teacher Mrs. Hayes approaching her desk.
Mrs. Hayes? I thought she had been in Drama class with Mrs. Meyers?
It’s getting confusing. Narrow down the character list. Keep it focused for this children’s book edit.
-Curley- I hope you had a good nap young lady. You have a quiz tomorrow and it will be on today’s lesson. – She said as she took away the Goldilocks script she was laying on.
-Walker! It was all a dream? The Golden Bears, are they safe? Where is my mom?- Curley said in a panic as the bell rang.
Andy took his red Lego backpack and cleaned off his glasses and said, “Curley, I think you’re taking the Goldilocks thing a but too serious. Let’s go home already. Want to come over and play later?”
Curley looked at her friend and gave him a big smile knowing it all had just been a dream.
Or was it true?……
OK… Well first off… please correct the punctuation for dialogue and make sure it’s told in past tense.
As for the ending… it’s very disappointing that it’s just a dream. I’ve read a number of children’s book manuscripts where the author has brought it back to “real life” like this. The fact is it’s a story. It’s not real life.
You can do anything you want in this storybook world as long as you make us believe it. If your next story is about how mom and dad get back from time travel in Asia and saving the Golden Bears that would be great. Maybe Curley and Andy and Uncle Ted have to go back and try to get them…
You’ve done a very good job here. It’s imaginative and you’ve created characters who are believable and likable.
We’ll follow Curley and her troop anywhere now…. preferably not back to a dull classroom though.
Do you see what I mean?
Readers of all ages want to escape a bit when they read a story. I did that until Curley woke up.
I encourage you to do the brave thing and keep Curley going on those time traveling journey’s…
Well, I’ll leave it there for this children’s book edit. Thank you very much for allowing me to critique your work.
Thank you for reading this children’s book edit. I wish you many imaginative tales.
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