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  • Writer's pictureTERRY ANN MARSH


July 10, 2019

Like the proverbial phoenix, I am climbing out of the ashes of my family conflicts and scheduling hodgepodge to begin again, and tend to my writer’s web page.

First on the list. Simplify.

I am, like many of us, a victim of overreach. Too many things, too little time. Striving to “do it all” and “be all.” Totally unrealistic goals. So, I will pare down to what are reachable goals for me within the framework of my life as it stands right now.

I would like ‘consistency’ and I to be friends, and I would like ‘wordiness’ to hit the road.

I am going to the Mid-Atlantic’s SCBWI conference in March, so I have gone through 2 picture book manuscripts to prepare them for critiques. I also went through another -- just because.

What is the one thing that stood out to me about my manuscripts?


It has taken me several writer’s conferences to get this concept through my head, but in today’s market, brevity is the catch phrase for children’s books. And so, you shall find me hunched over my keyboard, teary eyed, mumbling to myself, over and over, “Kill your darlings. Kill your darlings.” **

One picture book started out at 900 words, got trimmed to 450, and then I took out all words, except dialogue, leaving 191 words and illustrations only to tell the story. Will it work? We’ll see.

Another got transformed into an early reader chapter book. There was no way to submit it as a picture book, although I have no doubt that illustrations would make it spectacular, but in today’s market, no one will consider a picture book with 2000 words.

You might ask, “Why doesn’t Terry just move onto other projects and leave those rejected manuscripts in the bottom drawer where they belong?”

I’ll tell you why.

I love them. I love the story they tell. And I have hope that one day some editor or agent will read them, and think, “I love this!”

I have two more manuscripts to drag my red pencil through, and then I promise, to finish the MG novel that’s been sitting on my desk for 2 years.

**“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” William Faulkner

**“[K]ill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” Stephen King

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