A Word About Bedtime-Story's
Editing Division

Editing Talks to BOTH Authors and Illustrators


Stories accepted for publication at Bedtime-Story are selected on the basis of the author's story-telling talent.
Stories will come from;

1. An individual who is both a talented story-teller and an excellent writer. The submission will generally have a plot which makes sense, comprised of sentences which are well-crafted, and the spelling and grammar will be correct .

Example: It was four o'clock in the snack room at P.A.L. and Jess's tray was looking much too green for her taste. "Vegetables again!" complained the little girl to her much taller friend Alex. "Why can't we have something good for you, like pepperoni pizza with extra-extra cheese?" Just as Jess put down her fork and began to daydream about her other favorite food, spaghetti, Mr.O entered the room with two basketballs and one announcement. "Sixes and Sevens!" he called. "Whoever is finished with their snack can go to the park with Alex." Jess quickly picked up her fork and began eating again. No tray of boring vegetables was going to keep this seven-year old from going on the swings!

and stories will also come from

2. An individual who is talented story-teller, but whose writing may require polish.

Accepted works submitted by the former will require a minimum of effort on the part of the Bedtime-Story editing staff. If a plot wanders slightly off track, if a sentence doesn't quite make sense, or it accidentally contradicts a statement made elsewhere in the tale, it will be flagged for correction.

Works submitted by the latter often require extensive work by the editing staff, going far beyond simple spelling and grammar corrections. No problem. That's what we're here for.

The goal of this process is to help the writer begin to understand why the changes had to be made to begin with.

The purpose is to (1) assist the writer in refining his or her literary skills, and (2) to help the writer learn HOW to make his or her writing commercially viable.

If a sentence (or multiple sentences) required changing by the editing department, we'll do our best to explain exactly why that change was necessary. The ability to demonstrate phrasing alternatives in the context of the authors own work, greatly enhances the ability of that author to relate to the lesson offered.

The section below is intended as an example of the type of thought processes Bedtime-Story encourages authors to use when reviewing their own work prior to submission.

Writers are encouraged not to write down to children, but instead to gear towards a joint audience of bright children and educated parents, giving readers of any age the opportunity to expand their vocabulary, explore new concepts, develop a love of reading, and an appreciation for well-written children's literature.

It's not enough for an aspiring author to write; Suzie went to the Zoo and had a very nice day. That kind of sentence is flat, pedantic, and uninteresting.

While the writer might be able to visualize all the things Suzie saw, the reader will not be able to, unless the writer describes what it was about that trip to the Zoo that made Suzie's day a nice one. The words the writer chooses to do that, will require a specific thought process.

Think your way through your tale exactly as if you were watching a video unfold on a screen in front of you. Describe what you see happening.

At the lumberyard, Justin's Dad gathered all the materials they would be using for the treehouse. Justin got to pick the paint and Peter helped pick the tools. Then, they all headed back home.

How did Justin’s father gather the materials?
What kind of paint did Justin pick?
What kind of tools could Justin’s father possibly need, that he wouldn’t already have?
Who paid the bill for these supplies?
How did they transport all those materials once they purchased them?

In addition to paint and nails, the bill of materials for a full-fledged treehouse with a floor and walls and a roof would have included multiple two by fours and several sheets of heavy 4’x8’ plywood. Assuming the treehouse was a small one, the floor no bigger than a single sheet of plywood, they’d have needed one sheet for the floor, 3 sheets for the sides, (one for the front, one for the back, and one sheet could probably be cut in half for the ends) and then, depending upon the roof style, either one or two sheets for the roof. A pitched roof would be necessary if they lived in a northern climate, so as not to collapse the treehouse roof and damage the tree in a heavy snow. So that’s a minimum of 5 sheets of plywood, but more likely six would be needed. Coupled with all the 2x4’s they’d need for framing and bracing, that’s a lot of wood. Did Justin’s father have a pick-up truck? Did they pile everything in the back of the pick-up truck? Did the three of them sit up front in the cab? Was the radio on? Or were they driving a car? If they were driving a car, did they strap the boards on the roof of a car and have to crawl down the road at ten miles an hour to keep the plywood from blowing off? Did Justin have his arm out the window, holding onto the wood on the roof of the car?

Here’s how Editing suggested that the author solve the problem, answer all the questions, and at the same time, evoke a memorable image.

At the lumberyard, they pulled out their list and the three of them marched up and down the aisles rolling a big flat cart, stacking it high with supplies for the treehouse. Justin picked out his red and yellow paint, and he let Peter help pick out some of the boards and the nails. Justin's dad paid the cashier, and then they headed back home, with the delivery truck following close behind them.

Let's analyze what editing suggested and why:

They pulled out their list and the three of them…memorable image: Father and two young boys together, list in hand

marched up and down the aisles… aha! sounds like they’re in a Home Depot or a Builder's Square, or a Scotty's doesn’t it? You can picture the lumber aisles, can't you? That's because a typical family would be unlikely to go to a commercial lumberyard, but would instead go to one of these big neighborhood hardware stores for their supplies. So although the author's term lumberyard has not been changed, the visual image has, which allows the reader to picture and personally relate to the image. Use of the term "marched up and down the aisles" conveys a sense of determined purpose to the scene.

rolling a big flat cart…that’s what you USE to put big pieces of lumber on

stacking it high with supplies for the treehouse…picture the loaded cart

Justin picked out his red and yellow paint…reinforced color image (integral to story)

he LET Peter help…establishes this as being young Justin’s project

pick out some of the boards and the nails…no mention of tools, since no foundation had been laid for what additional tools might be needed or why

Justin’s dad paid the cashier…this gets them out of the building

and then they headed back home…no mention of what they’re driving is needed because:

with the delivery truck following close behind them...introducing the delivery truck neatly solved the problem.

Think your way through your tale exactly as if you were watching a video unfold on a screen in front of you. Describe what you see happening.

A WORD ABOUT POEMS: Occasionally Bedtime-Story will accept poems. (Not often, mind you, because this is a story site). The submission would have to be really, really good, and the piece must actually tell a story. Examples of this would be the Goggle stories, and Hensley the Cat. Occasionally an author may want to include a poem as part of the story line. Since there's a great deal more to poetry than using words that rhyme, and genuinely good poets are few and far between, most poetry submissions have had to be declined.

Please review THIS rhyming lesson page first.

If the poem is integral to the story but it doesn't work, editing will try to help make it work. If it's not integral and it doesn't work, it may not be used. The quality of the writing will likely be the deciding factor.

If portions of your tale come back with editing changes and you like them, we'll leave them in place. Most of our authors choose to do so. We find that that author's next submission will require a fraction of the editing that the first one did.

However, if you think you've got the hang of the lesson and you believe you can improve on the Editing Division's changes, by all means do it. Editing will either tell you you've done a great job and replace that section, or they'll roll up a newspaper and smack you for not paying attention.

The same holds true for...


ILLUSTRATORS are expected to carefully read the story and translate the scenes of their choice into an ACCURATE image. This also means that an illustrator is not to arbitrarily invent a scene which does not already exist in the story.

The example below shows what happens when an otherwise very talented illustrator created a scene which didn't exist, forcing revision of a perfectly good paragraph, simply to accomodate the illustration. More than the paragraph was altered however, because the entire scene was affected.

Startled out of her sleep, Amanda opened one eye and found Lavinia Mudwallow nose to nose with her. "Ick," said Amanda. "Your nose is wet. Shoo!, Shoo!" Lavinia smiled to herself and planted a gentle kiss on Amanda’s ear. "Ooog," said Amanda, quickly pulling the covers over her head and burrowing deeper into the soft pillow. "I’m not getting up yet, Lavinia," Amanda mumbled drowsily,"...so you can just go away."

WHERE does this illustration match the story scene ?
Answer: It doesn't.

The artist's non-conforming illustration forced insertion of an additional paragraph, which, while functional, is not totally in sync with author's scene of child who is half asleep.

Startled out of her sleep, Amanda opened one eye and found Lavinia Mudwallow nose to nose with her. "Ick," said Amanda. "Your nose is wet. Shoo! Shoo!" Lavinia smiled to herself and planted a gentle kiss on Amanda’s ear. "Ooog," said Amanda.

Amanda roused herself just long enough to make a quick funnyface at Lavinia before throwing herself back onto the soft pillow and pulling the covers over her head. "I’m not getting up yet, Lavinia," Amanda mumbled drowsily,"...so you can just go away."

Editing will not accept any illustration which doesn't conform to the author's story line.

If an illustration portrays the scene accurately, but misses some nuance that would make the scene special or would make a reader relate better to a particular character, Editing will flag that illustration for special attention. A member of the Editing team will take the time to work with both the author and the illustrator to make certain an illustration portrays an author's scene to its very best advantage.

WHY does Bedtime-Story's Editing division take the time to mentor authors and illustrators?

We'll explain it this way: The Horn Book Guide is the most comprehensive review source available for children's and young adult books. The Guide reviews, rates, and cross-references almost every hardcover trade children's book published in the United States.

Here is an example of one of their reviews:

"...The rhyming verse is forced and the story wearying and anticlimactic. The illustrations are crowded and the figure-drawing amateurish."

THAT's why we spend the time with you. The wonderfully talented author/illustrator whose work earned Horn's scathing review was devastated, and the book immediately failed as a result. The author's story idea was right, though, and the illustrations were actually quite charming. But in the long-run, the reviewer was correct. The thing is, the book shouldn't have failed. Had Bedtime-Story's editors reviewed the tale first, and had the opportunity to work with the author to get it right the first time, the Horn review would have been positive.

Authors and Illustrators whose work has been accepted for inclusion at Bedtime-Story will have already been judged as seriously talented, or those submissions would not have reached the Editing division.

It's simply Editing's job to be certain that what you're about to show to the world is the very best it can possibly be.

Bedtime-Story relies upon a volunteer editing staff.
We welcome additional editors.

Ideally you'll remind us of the creative writing teacher who picked up our homework, burst out laughing, corrected our spelling and grammar, gave us an "A-minus" and said "Write another story, but make the next one even better," and then was able to show us how to do exactly that.

Want to do something to help foster literacy and mentor promising writers? Got the qualifications and the skills? Got some spare time? Tell us about yourself, and give us a short sample of your writing. Mark "Editor" in the subject line of your email and send it HERE

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