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Recently, I had the opportunity to have my picture book story Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy critiqued by a literary agent Mary Kole. Before I emailed the manuscript, I felt confident that this story would wow her. In fact, I felt it was one of the best stories I had ever written.
Several months later, I received the critique. She wrote that she liked the voice of the story. And that’s a good thing, because voice sells picture books. But what she didn’t like was the resolution. She wrote that it was “a bit unsatisfying.”
That comment shook my confidence. However after a week or so after feeling dejected, I realized it was only one opinion. Nonetheless, it was an opinion that I valued and trusted. Luckily, Mary suggested that I read Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse. This book was similar to mine in plot, but it had a stronger resolution. After reading it again, I found hope—I wouldn't give up on my story. I just needed to rework the ending.
First, I had to analyze what was wrong with the resolution. To do so, I had to get inside my main character’s head to figure out how he really wanted to conclude the story. When I “listened” he “told” me that he’d do things differently than originally written.
So, I modified his actions toward the end of the story so that it was more true to his character. This change caused him to reflect on his situation. It prompted him to set things right, which in turn led to the growth of his character. The ending became more heart-warming, and I believe more satisfying. Thanks to Mary’s comments, I feel that my book is even better than before. I like to imagine that if she read it again, she might even say “wow.”