I read in several "how to write" books to try typing out picture books you love to see what they looked like as a manuscript. Well, I dutifully ignored this advice for a year.
I finally tried it with the following books a few weeks ago:
Kitten's First Full Moon - 264 words (By Kevin Henke, 2004)
Children Make Terrible Pets - 372 words (By Peter Brown, 2010)
This Moose Belongs to Me - 397 words (By Oliver Jeffers, 2012)
The Boy Who Cried Ninja - 517 words (By Alex Latimer, 2011)
Here's what I learned:
Typing the text let's you really absorb it. Like drinking it through a straw. I also tried drinking it through a straw, but it required so much water to make the pages slurpable that I really got a significant tummy ache and a severe case of belching.
|"Look Ma, I learned how to use mentor texts!"|
image by Cécile Graat via sxc.hu
Typing it out (if you're a fast keyer) is much better than counting all the words one by one. I can count to 1,000, really I can, but I'm lazy and easily distracted so I often lose count or accidentally start counting sheep.
Parallel structures and repetition become clearer once typed. Let yourself copy and paste when writing!
Word count reduction methods are easier to see - such as by omitting dialogue tags, letting the illustrations work, and avoiding "and," "or", "but." If you look at some of the typed text without any art notes or illustrations, you could imagine many things happening on that spread.
Richness and plot can be obtained in very few words. It's magical when it does.
How do you use mentor texts to learn the craft?