During the years of writing “The Triplet Ballerinas”, I received many critiques of my story/writing. The critiques became better as my writing became better. The first few ones were pretty discouraging, especially the one I received from a male editor on Mother’s Day! I almost quit then, but I persevered and, with each critique and advice, my manuscript improved.
Here is an excerpt from one of my later critiques: “The story feels more tightly focused on Annie, and we are now clearly inside her perspective. Conflict is introduced earlier in the story. And the story is more focused overall—there are fewer elements that fall outside of the main story line. However, as is usually the process, as you make forward progress with each revision, it can also become even more clear what other story elements still need to be addressed. I don’t feel a deep connection to Annie, or that I have a strong sense of her character arc for this story. Many of your readers won’t have any real understanding of or interest in dancing in a recital—but they will understand having a deep desire that is at first thwarted, and then, through persistence or creativity or cleverness, ultimately rewarded. That is the universal element that will draw them in even if they are not dancers. Without building in that universal element—the thing that makes the story emotionally understandable to a broad audience—the audience will be very limited to those who already know what a pirouette is—which means, very few picture book readers.”
The last critique I received was the most important one. Here is an excerpt from this critique that sent me on the journey to “The Triplet Ballerinas” as it is today: “Ballerina books are always a welcome topic for little girls and the title certainly is a great one as I don’t think there are any triplet ballerinas out there. Unfortunately, this wasn’t about triplet ballerinas. This was about Macie and Miss Carol who for some reason that we have no idea, decide they need triplet ballerinas. And when Macie does a few things to force her siblings into helping her out, she doesn’t get the idea until a happenstance occurs with the pony poop. Now poop is always funny for kids, but to me, in this case, it is forced. If a conflict doesn’t feel real or there aren’t good reasons for them, then it won’t ring true for the reader. A better idea would be for a story about the triplet ballerinas and the shenanigans they get into while trying to put on the best show. I think there would be a market for all three of these characters if you made each one with their own personality and an interesting plot. You cannot force a plot. All conflict must have reasons. I want you to keep these characters, but you need to give them each a personality and there needs to be a better plot. I think you have the makings of a character driven book, but you’ve taken away the triplets. Allow them to help each other move the story along though their differing personalities. Most books are about one character, but there are books with two and you know what? Rules are meant to be broken when you have a great idea. Don’t ever forget that!!” Beverly