On her journal, Massachusetts children’s-book author Jane Yolen has provided a play-by-play narrative of how she’s developed a picture-book manuscript about Benjamin Franklin’s “Leather Apron Club”—a self-improvement and discussion group for ambitious mechanics. This project has taken years, and is still in progress at the publisher.
Among Jane’s challenges:
- Finding a young protagonist for young readers to identify with.
- Finding a narrative shape and pace to bring out the emotional meaning of historic events.
- Sticking reasonably close to the historical record.
- Researching details of daily life that a historical article on the same topic needn’t include.
- Knowing what facts to leave out, even though they’re really neat.
- Making the result work within the picture-book form, considering the strengths of her illustrator and the budget of her publisher. (Having been an editor herself, Jane is more keenly aware of that side of the business than new authors have to be; most authors have no idea which artist they’re writing for.)
(Thanks to Fuse #8 for the link.)