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Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults Paperback – March 9, 2011
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How does an editor work with a writer, and help her improve a manuscript? What does an editor think about plot and character and theme and how they must work together to produce a great story? And what are editors like as people? To find answers to these questions, children's book writers have always had to attend conference, read interviews and blog posts, and trade anecdotes and gossip. No longer--they can simply read Second Sight . . . This is not a writing guide--though it contains a sizable amount of very helpful material for writers--because it goes beyond being a writing guide to get its readers thinking about the elements of good children's and YA literature, and to provide insight into the publishing process and the interests and personality of one particular editor. --Harold Underdown, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books
About the Author
Cheryl B. Klein has worked as an editor of children's and young adult books for more than fifteen years. She served as the continuity editor for the American editions of the last two Harry Potter novels, and books that she edited have won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Stonewall Award, the Sid Fleischman Humor Award, and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book citation, among other honors. She is also the author of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults, published by W. W. Norton in 2016, and a forthcoming picture book, Wings. Cheryl speaks at multiple writers' conferences throughout the year, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Please visit her editorial website at www-dot-cherylklein-dot-com.
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I still have those when I learn something new that is going to advance my art or story craft.
Cheryl B. Klein’s book, Second Sight An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults contains a broad collection of techniques that fine tune the art of writing. These editing tools are universal – you don’t have to be a children’s or young adult author to benefit from them.
Second Sight paints pictures in the mind’s eye...and is entertaining to read. “I am a narrative nerd,” says Klein.
With each topic (delivered as a transcript from blog posts or lectures given at various writer’s conferences) Cheryl provides examples of how it was used in publishing projects. As an editor for Arthur A. Levine (a Scholastic Inc. imprint), she gives glimpses into the workings of the editorial mind that are as valuable as the mechanical and organizational techniques.
Topics Include; Author / Publisher / Editor Relationships, Creating Empathy for Your Characters, Hooks, Flap Copy, Chapter and Story Arc Maps, and Action vs. Emotional Plots.
Manuscript editing has always been a dreaded chore. Now, I’m almost as excited about editing as pile-o-presents day. This book is a gift to writers everywhere.
Scholastic super-editor Cheryl Klein* has compiled seven years' worth of her conference talks, blog posts, and web features into one book. As the title implies, the goal of this book is to give you an editor's perspective for analyzing and revising your book.
The verdict: It does!
The background: I read SECOND SIGHT initially because I was lucky enough to interview Klein for the 2012 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market), and the interview centered on concepts in SS, as well as other topics. I had to frequently remind myself of my impending deadline and the interview questions that had yet to be written, because SS made me want to open up my work-in-progress and get tinkering. Now that's an effective book on craft.
The explanation: SECOND SIGHT works for me for a number of reasons, namely...
1. It's an excellent blend of philosophy and technique. Klein first explains why and how something works (such as voice or plot/character development), then offers concrete advice or worksheets on how to make it shine in your WIP. Nothing makes me snooze more than a lofty book of 500 pages of theory. This is not that book!
2. The examples she gives for each topic cemented my understanding of the ideas she puts forth. From epic fantasy and dystopian series like Harry Potter and Hunger Games, to contemporary YA/MG books like Marcelo In The Real World and Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Klein pinpoints exactly why these novels are so loved and honored. (I had more than a couple "Ohhhh. That makes sense!" moments here.)
3. SECOND SIGHT can be read cover to cover if you choose, but you can also just dive in to a specific section. Klein acknowledges that parts of the book overlap, but I found it helpful. It reinforced how each element of strong writing builds upon the others, and it highlights the primary considerations for revision. And just in case you want a quick refresher, the book ends with "Twenty-Five Revision Techniques."
4. SS offers more than just craft. There are two heavily annotated query letters (one good, one awful), a section titled, "Finding a Publisher and Falling in Love," and one on the author-editor relationship.
5. It's realistic and practical. For writers who want to revise their novels until they're as strong as possible, and who are willing to put in the grunt work to make it happen, SECOND SIGHT has a plethora of exercises, questionnaires, and worksheets to do so. And if you're like me and are picky about those kinds of things, there's a variety ---- find what works for you.
In Klein's introduction, she states,
"I love reading stories, taking them apart and seeing how they work, then putting them back together with each piece polished and gleaming."
Her passion for literature shines in SECOND SIGHT. In my initial review title, I described SS as "must-read," but I switched it to "must-own" because it's the type of book you want beside you as you work, so you can thumb through it when the need strikes. Reading it revitalized my progress on my current WIP; specifically, it made me realize I'd begun to stray from the heart of the story and needed to refocus. I can honestly say that the book lives up to its title: I gained a new perspective on the elements that make a strong novel, and my writing (and especially my revision techniques) are better for it.
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There was information I am sure others will find helpful, just not for me.