Revising and Re-Imagining Your Picture Book Manuscript (Webinar Series) February-April 2018

Dates: Evenings (8:30-9:30 pm Eastern, 5:30-6:30 pm Pacific), February 27, March 6, March 20, March 27, April 10, April 17. Make-up date May 8. (We skip some weeks due to other commitments.) The webinar will be presented on the widely used Zoom platform, which works on Mac and Windows computers and tablets (and, in a pinch, smartphones).

A new free preview and introductory session, How a Picture Book Works, exploring the idea of the reader as collaborator, was held on January 23, and will be made available as a video recording during the class.

Registration for this class: Registration is closed as we do final preparations for the first class. We may re-open between the first and second sessions.

All students watch and participate in the live sessions. Recordings, transcripts, and text chat will be available following each session to all students.

"Work on your Own" option: Students receive no additional support outside of class. If you like to work on your own, don't need manuscript feedback, or have limited time for classwork, this could be a good choice for you.

Work with Us option: All students who choose this will be assigned a personal teacher who will respond to homework, answer questions by email, and consult with the student on a picture book manuscript. If you like guidance when learning new techniques, want feedback on a manuscript, or just want regular contact with one of us, this could be a good choice for you. The linked page provides additional information about how this will work.

We are giving away one "Work with Us" seat at no cost in a promotion giveaway. Use the link to jump down to find out how that will work.

If you have a question, please feel free to contact us.


Picture books are short and simple, written for young children, so they must be easy to write--or so we hear from people who have never attempted one. Picture book writers know that's not true, but their length does make it more practical to revise them, perhaps multiple times, and even to completely re-think or "re-imagine" them, than when working with longer forms.

That's what we aim to help you do in this webinar series with your picture book manuscripts, both during the class and for years afterwards. As independent editors, and in-house children's book editors in New York before that, both of us have years of experience in working with writers on picture books. So we created our successful "Revising and Re-Imagining Your Picture Book" in-person workshop. We then developed this online presentation in spring 2015, and have continued to revise and update it. The webinar series, like the workshop, teaches you techniques to help you find problems with your manuscript, reshape it, and then polish it up before you send it out.

To see what people have said about our past workshops, see our What Our Students Say page.

Topics Covered

Some of what we will cover in the webinar:
February 27 -- Using Reader Response Theory to Understand Picture Books Work: In this session we will look at the two opposing approaches to understanding literature and explore how to use the least familiar of the two, reader response theory, to analyze your picture book.

March 6 -- Getting Feedback from others: In this updated session we will cover how to get feedback from others in critique groups, from beta readers, and by working with children.

March 20 -- Revising at the Big Picture Level to Get Your Story Working: In this session we will explore ways of seeing your story in a new light--the true meaning of "re-vision." We will try out techniques from the one-line summary to the story grid.

March 27 -- Re-Imagining Character and Setting to Find a Fresh Approach: Sometimes there's nothing much wrong with a story, but it needs a fresh approach. It, or part of it, needs to be re-imagined. In this session we will look into methods to learn more about your main character and how to use different settings to tell a different story.

April 10 -- Re-Imagining POV and Voice to Find a Fresh Approach: In this session we will continue to re-imagine, this time looking at point of view and voice, and find ways to transform how we are approaching them.

April 17 -- Revising at the Word and Sentence Level to Polish Your Story: In this session, we will present and demonstrate self-editing methods that you can use to clean up your manuscript without hiring a copyeditor.

May 8 -- Make-Up Date: Please hold this date open as a make-up date in case we have to cancel a session due to weather or technical difficulties.

In each session, we will provide a clear framework, examples from current and classic picture books ("touchstone" books), hands-on exercises, handouts and tools, recommended resources, and time for questions and discussion. Every session after the first one will open with examples from the "homework" from the previous week or from critiques (more on those below).

We deliberately set this class up as a protected space in which you can feel free to make mistakes, ask questions you worry are stupid, and try out new directions; in this class, there will be no agents sitting in, no pitch sessions, no "opportunities to submit a manuscript" to win, because we want you to be able to focus on your writing and revising and on what you are learning in the class without feeling self-conscious and anxious to get it "ready." This will be six weeks of digging deep into your picture book writing, and we want you to enjoy it and be challenged by it in a good way.

Promotion Giveaway

As we have done with other classes, we are not just hoping you will help spread the word about this webinar; we are offering you an incentive to do so. Facebook and other social media platforms notoriously muffle the spread of news, so we ask you to share information about the webinar, along with a link to this page. The prize is a free "seat" in this or one of our future classes.

Do this on Facebook or Twitter, and tag either of us or use the hashtag #KBRPBwebinar so that we can see your post and give you an entry to the drawing. If post on a platform elsewhere, please let us know so we can give you credit. We will count each post between now and the beginning of the class, within reason and at our discretion--don't expect us to give you hundreds of entries if you Tweet every five minutes!

If you were letting your friends know anyway, please consider this a thank-you.

Frequently asked questions: If you have questions, you may find them answered on this page.

Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson have worked together since 2008 to bring something different to aspiring authors. They have created online classes and tutorials and in-person workshops, presenting and working with writers at SCBWI conferences, recent workshops in western Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pittsburgh, and an annual 4-day retreat at the Highlights Foundation. More information on our backgrounds.

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