PB Master Class Takeaway: From Frustration to First Draft

The video clip is adorable. A racoon dips a chunk of cotton candy into water, anticipating the scrumptious morsal. but it disappears! He frantically looks for his dissolved treat, unable to comprehend the science between water and the fluffy confection.

This is the inspiration for my picture book.

Unfortunately, I discovered that it was extremely difficult to write, despite the adorableness of the concept. My husband helped me brainstorm some fantastic storylines, but I struggled with coming up with the complete story. I would write so far, then get stuck. So, I’d start over. Then I’d start over again. And again.

My little racoon was stuck in a Groundhog Day loop, living and reliving the same days over and over, but in different ways. Finally, I wore us both out. I grew frustrated, and my masked friend began experiencing an identity crisis.

Then Write2Ignite announced its Picture Book Master Class. I signed up, thankful to finally have help with my story. I prayed I would learn something I could use to solidify this story idea and breathe life into Remmy racoon.

Write2Ignite and Author Laura Sassi did not let me — or my half-developed furry friend — down.

Laura’s workshop, “Scaffolds and Skeletons,” presented information on different picture book story structures. She presented each story structure, along with its pros and cons, and showed us examples through published picture books. She also provided a simple outline for each structure which I found extremely helpful.

By the time Laura finished, I was anxious to figure out which one of these structures would work best for my story. I toyed with Cumulative, Journey, and Classic Narrative structures. I finally chose the Classic Narrative.

Remmy and I strategized, filling in the outline together. After plugging in a few rough details, we knew we had made the right decision. We high-fived each other, and I went to work writing. Two days after the Master Class, I completed the first full draft of The Cotton Candy Caper.

Yes, it’s just a first draft and I have oodles of work to do. But writing the first draft gave me something to work with; something I could use to move forward. I’ve submitted it to others in my critique group and they have already done wonders to further help me shape and tighten my story. And the lovable Remmy is taking shape beautifully.

In addition to providing solid, digestible information, Laura’s love for writing picture books energized me. In our break-out sessions, I talked with others about the strategies Laura shared, and many of us voice how anxious we were to get back to work on our works-in-progress. We even admitted that we enjoyed having Laura read picture books to us when she shared examples. I guess you never really outgrow that.

In today’s world, it’s difficult for writers to succeed on their own. Joining writing communities and learning from others gives us a huge advantage in this ever-changing, competitive industry. Proverbs 27:17 says that “As iron sharpens iron, so does one person sharpen another.” Thank you, Laura, for allowing God to use you to sharpen the rest of us through your experience and knowledge.

And Remmy thanks you, too.

4 thoughts on “PB Master Class Takeaway: From Frustration to First Draft

  1. Best wishes on Cotton Candy Caper! I love the alliteration and look forward to hearing more of this journey!

  2. Oh, I love the title and the premise. I’m so happy to know that workshop was helpful. I’m so thankful for this wonderful writing community! Have fun revising. =)

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