Spent today (or this afternoon) with a five-year-old, which is a fabulous way to rattle settled perspectives. At one point, 5yo was displaying her "pocket pollies" (do other people know about these dolls? New to me. Anyway, she had the Disney princesses, and a veritable horde of dresses). I can't quite remember how it came about, but I do remember remarking "Jasmine's easy to tell apart from the others." Me, I'm thinking wearing pants and crop top instead of a dress, and the dark skin. 5yo agreed with me, but for her own reasons: "She's the one with the fat head." Have to admit, she was right. Pocket Polly Jasmine has a much larger head than Pocket Polly Ariel/Belle/Cinderella.
Yesterday's editing class brought a guest speaker: children's publisher Mark McLeod, from Hodder Headline Australia. He was a very entertaining and engaging speaker, and had a lot of thoughtful things to say. Mostly there was talk about perspective, and how books for very young children had to be excellently layered: parents are the ones who read the books to their children, and no matter how much the child loves the book, there had better be something in it for the parents to enjoy, otherwise the renditions quickly become tiresome.
The issue of for-children/for-adults also took up a lot of time: it's parents purchasing the books and, very often, choosing the books their children will read. Which brought up the issue of adults reading their own reality into a storyline. Mark gave an example of reading Hansel & Gretel aloud to his own child, at a time when fairytales were coming under public scrutiny for frightening elements. The child said yes, it was a frightening story; Mark then asked, "What was frightening? Being put in the oven?" Because of course, as adults, we know that people have been put in ovens in the history of the world, and surely that's terrifying. But the child's response? "No, not the oven. Being taken into the forest and left all alone."
There was more, but I didn't take enough notes to remember them right now. After Mark had left, our teacher recommended a handful of texts which are useful when editing fiction.
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne, Dave King
- On Writing Well, by William Zinsser
- The Writing of Fiction, by Edith Wharton
- Making Stories: How Ten Australian Novels Were Written, edited by Kate Grenville & Sue Woolfe
That last book is apparently "a little difficult to make your way around", but nonetheless interesting, because it features snippets of first drafts and communications between author/editor.