I write how I read, in multiples. I typically have several writing projects going on at once, usually a picture book, middle grade, and a YA (and then the occasional non-fiction piece for work). Switching between genres helps keep my brain fresh. If I have been working on one piece for a while, and writer’s block looms, I switch to another project for a while to maintain momentum.
The variance in my approach to writing picture books versus novels isn’t necessarily intentional, but rather the formats of the genres lend themselves to different paths. Of course, every author must discover their own writing groove, and the following is what works for me.
Picture books are recommended to be 1000 words or less, with the emphasis on or less. To keep focused, I have to be methodical. The limited word count requires every word to have purpose. After the idea hits me, I list all the page spread numbers first. I favor writing picture books in short bursts, mirroring the brevity of the picture book’s page length.
First, I determine the climax and hook and which page spread the climax will fall. Of course, this spread is moveable, but I like to have a target to build toward. My current books all contain back matter, as they are addressing facts about the natural world and yoga. I calculate in the back matter to my page count, as to not go over the recommended page length. All of the back matter is referenced or connected to the book content, so I ensure to use consistent terminology through the book.
Also as illustrations are involved, I think about which pages lend themselves to full page spreads and which are single-page illustrations. Having a vision for the overall book concept helps me to balance the text. Of course the editor might suggest moving things around, but my picture book editor likes for me to have some vision for the illustrations before we start.
Picture books consist of many moving parts!
With picture books, I tend to write more than required and then cut back on the unnecessary details; however, with novels I do the opposite. For the first draft, I focus on assembling the skeleton, which for me means dialogue and the major plot points. I add descriptive details and the “color” in subsequent drafts.
For novels, I have the exposition, climax, and resolution determined first, and then figure out how to get there. After writing the exposition, I formulate a timeline of major plotline events. I never know how many chapters a book will have until it’s finished.
I prefer to write novels in longer strides, so if I don’t have at least time to knock out a chapter I wait and work on something else. When I get stuck, I take a break (notice I said when and not if, blocks happen to every writer). Often my breakthrough ideas come when I’m doing something else, like driving, gardening, and particularly after teaching a yoga class!
Understanding your typical patterns will help you to be a more efficient and productive writer; however, most importantly, know how to take a quality break.
When Daddy Shows Me the Sky (picture book) from Belle Isle Books, released 11.19.21
Whispering Through Water (YA) from Monarch Educational Services, released 1.4.23
When Mama Grows with Me (picture book) from Belle Isle Books (releases Summer 2023)
Publisher: Monarch Educational Services, L.L.C
Print length: 265 pages
About the Author
Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler was raised in West Point, a small town in the Tidewater region of Virginia. From the moment she submitted her first short story to a young author’s contest in second grade, Rebecca knew she wanted to be a writer. Her love of writing led her to earn a BA in English and an MEd in English education. She spent several years as a high school teacher, during which she also developed a passion for mental health advocacy. Rebecca completed an MA in professional counseling and now works in the school-based mental health field and as a college adjunct psychology instructor. Rebecca also teaches yoga for the young and the young at heart, and she likes to infuse yoga and breathwork in her counseling practice wherever she can.
She believes the most valuable use of her time is teaching youth how to love and care for each other and the world around them. Her stories share her focus on positive relationships and a love of nature. Rebecca now lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, two children, and two spoiled Siamese cats.
Whispering Through Water is her first YA novel and second book. Her picture book When Daddy Shows Me the Sky was released November 2021. You can follow Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccawwheeler_author and www.rebeccawwheeler.com.
Blog Tour Calendar
January 9th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the launch of Whispering Through Water by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler. We interview the author and give away a copy of the book to one lucky reader.
January 10th @ Mindy McGinnis’ blog
Visit Mindy’s blog to read Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler’s guest post about things she’s learned about the author and editor relationship.
January 10th @ Rockin’ Book Reviews
Visit Lu Ann’s blog for her review of Whispering Through Water. You also have the chance to win a copy of the book!
January 11th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa’s blog for an interview with author Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler.
January 12th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Join Anthony as he shares his thoughts about Whispering Through Water.
January 13th @ A Storybook World
Deirdre features Whispering Through Water in a book spotlight.
January 14th @ Just Katherine
Katherine treats us to an excerpt of Whispering Through Water.
January 15th @ Reading is My Remedy
Join Chelsie for a review of Whispering Through Water.
January 16th @ One Writer’s Journey
Sue shares a guest post by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about how her graduate program in counseling helped her write fiction.
January 18th @ Word Magic
Fiona spotlights Whispering Through Water by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler.
January 19th @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
Visit Joan’s blog for her insights about Whispering Through Water.
January 21st @ Life According to Jamie
Visit Jamie’s blog for her thoughts about Whispering Through Water by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler.
January 24th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Join Anthony as he shares a guest post by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about her different processes when writing young adult versus picture books.
January 26th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole reviews the book Whispering Through Water.
January 27th @ Storeybook Reviews
Come by Leslie’s blog and read her review of Whispering Through Water.
January 28th @ Reading is My Remedy
Cheslie shares a guest post from Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about gardening.
February 1st @ Beverley A. Baird
Join Beverley as she reviews Whispering Through Water.
February 2nd @ Celticlady’s Reviews
Check out a book spotlight of Whispering Through Water. A must-read book to add to your collection!
February 2nd @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of Whispering Through Water.
February 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird
Visit Beverley’s blog again for a guest post by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about growing up in a small town.
February 5th @ The Mommies Reviews
Join Glenda as she reviews Whispering Through Water by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler.
February 6th @ One Writer’s Journey
Sue will be interviewing Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler. Learn more about this prolific writer!
February 7th @ Liberate and Lather
Join Angela as she reviews Whispering Through Water. She also shares a guest post by Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about simple things to do at home to be more eco-friendly.
February 9th @ Chapter Break
Julie interviews author Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler about books, writing, life, and more.
February 10th @ From the TBR Pile
Visit Kari’s blog for a review of Whispering Through Water.
February 11th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Visit Linda’s blog for an in-depth interview with author Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler and her book Whispering Through Water.