Nov 04

The Idea Machine (My Creative Process- Part 1)

by Hannah Holt »


Every book starts as an idea.

Ideas come easily enough. Five or more book ideas probably float through my head on any given day. However… if an idea stays with me… if an intriguing phrase pops into my head around that idea… if my first draft reveals substance (garbled substance, but substance nonetheless)… then I think about pursuing it further. I don’t keep a notebook of ideas; however, I do keep an electronic folder of partially explored ideas.

For example, one day, I was out running errands when I smelled burning paraffin. Oh, paraffin is a fun word! I want to write a story around the word paraffin.

So I wrote a picture book about a little girl, who goes on an adventure in a wax castle. It was a fanciful, magical, and allegorical story. Unfortunately, it was too abstract for young children. I loved the story, but it just wasn’t working.

Twenty drafts later, I took the story in a completely different direction. The revised story doesn’t contain any paraffin, but it is an enjoyable adventure filled with “ha-ha” and “ah-ha” age appropriate moments. It’s better. But still not finished. It’s languishing in the “partially explored idea folder.” Maybe I’ll read it a year from now and decide it’s worth polishing.

In my next post, I’ll describe my revision process. (To read Part 2, click here.)

Oct 14

Feeling Pithy?

by Hannah Holt »

Comments Off on Feeling Pithy?

All words are not created equal.

My favorite stories pair economy with poignancy. Maybe that’s one reason why I’m drawn to picture books.

However, some forms of storytelling rival even picture books for brevity (and I’m not talking about board books). Here are a few:

The Six Word Memoir: Can you write your life story in six words?

Flash Fiction: A story in 1,000 words or fewer.

Hint Fiction: A complete story in 25 words or less, suggesting a broader story.

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn” —Ernest Hemingway