Kidlit Zombie Week Post #1 for 2021: Let Sleeping Stories Lie

Dear Math is Everywhere Readers and Kidlit Zombie Week Friends,

Welcome to Kidlit Zombie Week!

For those of you who are new here, thank you for joining us for this fun!

Kidlit Zombie Week is a week full of fantastic puns and great insight as we help each other bring our dead stories back to life–just like zombies! They may look a little mangled at first, but with some TLC–and LOTS of brains!–your zombies could become the life of the party.

So, how do stories get buried?

Like everything in the publishing business, it can happen many ways:

It could be that you worked the story to death, but it never got to the point you needed.
It could be that you couldn’t find that original hook to make it really stand out in this crowded market.
It could be that other stories caught your eye.
Or it could be some other reason.

And I’d love to know your reason. Please share in the comments and on this Twitter post what made your story rest in peace. But first, finish reading this post. 😉

No matter the reason, it is actually really important to let sleeping stories lie, even if they won’t be sent to the grave. 

And honestly, sometimes this is why stories become Zombie stories: they just need some time to rest before they can be revived and reach their full potential.

One of the most important strategies a writer can use is time. 

So take time away from your stories. 

After you write a first draft, set that story aside.

After you get a critique, read through the critique, then set the story aside.

After you make big edits, set the story aside.

When you feel ready to query, yup, you guessed it, set the story aside.

Why?

Because when we get too close to something, we miss things, we get too attached (which, uhhh, you should be, it’s your baby!), but that makes it difficult to edit.

When you literally and figuratively distance yourself from the story, you’re able to come at it with a clear, more objective head. You can use your brains, which, in the time you are waiting and letting your story sleep, you’ve hopefully filled with reading recently published books, taking writing classes, reading and analyzing other people’s stories, etc. so that when you come back to reanimate the story, you’ve got the best brains ready to serve up to your starving zombie story!

How long should you take away? 

As always, it depends. 

For some, a few days.

For others, a week or two.

And for still others, a month or more.

The time depends on you and your style.

But either way, it should be long enough for you to come back with fresh eyes, like you don’t remember the story.

So, if you’re like Dory, a few days may be enough, but if you’re more like Flipperapparently dolphins have the longest social memory–then maybe taking weeks away would be better.

If you need help with finding resources for taking courses or reading great books, check out my resources page on my website to find out more about things like ReFoReMo, Storystorm, Children’s Book Academy, Storyteller Academy, blogs like Mindy’s, and more!

I hope you all let your sleeping stories lie at some point, and then come back to them with all the advice and hope you’ll gain from Kidlit Zombie Week, and bring those lovely manuscripts fresh life!

Please join in the discussion today (6/14/2021) on Twitter by sharing why your story has become a Zombie story and interact with others.

If you miss commenting today, this post and the Twitter post will be up for a long time; feel free to pop in anytime and interact and learn and grow from your fellow creatives!

Don’t forget to follow 6 Ladies and a MANuscript who are your hosts for Kidlit Zombie Week: @6and_MANuscript which is made up of @writerjolene @KaitlynLeann17 (that’s ME!) @MikeIrvineBooks @SarahJWMeade @sarahheatcreate @kristinwauson.

If you haven’t thought of a story to focus on for this revival week yet, dig through those old files and find a story or two you might want to resuscitate as we help each other revive those zombie stories! Oh, yeah, and check out all the prizes you can win by going to the Kidlit Zombie Week website.

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

PS. For those of you new to Kidlit Zombie Week, it is week full of posts like this, discussions on Twitter, and lots of PRIZES. It is generally focused on picture books for prizes because our critique group who is hosting this free event are all picture book writers; however, these tips, posts, tricks, and fun ideas are for all writers (so is the pledge contest, so check out the website!)

If you have questions about Kidlit Zombie Week, check out our FAQs page, and if you can’t find your answer there, feel free to DM us on Twitter or use the contact page on our website. Can’t wait to have a great Kidlit Zombie Week! If you haven’t signed up for the amazing LIVE and FREE pitch practice event with pitch teacher Kate Allen Fox, shuffle on over to the Forms page.

38 thoughts on “Kidlit Zombie Week Post #1 for 2021: Let Sleeping Stories Lie

  1. I have several stories resting in peace. After submitting to numerous agents, if my manuscripts continue to receive rejections, I decide it’s time to step away, and let them die. Thank you, 6 Ladies and a MANuscript, for giving me the incentive to dig into these manuscripts once more, and see if there is any life left in them.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m focusing on two stories this week. One has been resting for weeks. I finished a draft, got initial feedback but other stories screamed louder for attention. Another story has been queried with passes. It’s also been resting. I’ve been studying while they rest and feel ready to breath new life into them! Excited for this week!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have several stories that like Rip Van Winkle have been napping long enough! This week should be a perfect time to wake them up.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Woot, This reason sure did resonate with one zombie story: It could be that you worked the story to death, but it never got to the point you needed.That one is still in the “deep 6,” but I have a story that ALMOSt made it into a contest that I’m “reviving.”
    When you think it’s great, been subbing it, and find it’s not, and need a new character, a different plot, turned from info-fic to fic, that revision. And that’s my story for the week. TY Team Zombie!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have several manuscripts that have been set aside. One for over a year. It was an early ms that I wrote in rhyme and it was rejected, but also won a contest. So I wasn’t sure whether to work to improve the rhyme or rewrite in prose. Others seem stuck. The beginning isn’t strong. Hook not hooky enough. Ending not twisty or surprising, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Okay, I’m finally going to do it…. I’ve avoided revising a zombie because I know it means removing a character I love and by removing her, it will become a completely different story. But I’ve got to do this to see where the story might go and if it works, then I’ll mourn the loss of my beloved character and move on. Right??

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My little zombie is an informational fiction manuscript that got a personal letter of rejection from an editor. She wrote what she would have liked to see, which is basically a little more “Wow!” factor. This week I’m going to dig around the zombie revival laboratory for some wow.
    Good luck to everyone participating!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I have so many dead MS that could do with bringing back to life. They are from around 2000-2006 and so have rested far too long perhaps but then I didn’t know then what I know now! Let’s do this!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have two stories in particular that share the same problem. They were written in my first years of learning the craft and my “picture book voice” was much more suited to MG. I love the stories and have struggled with whether to shape them into PBs or develop them further as MG. They’ve sat for 12 and 15 years, waiting to be brought to life! We’re talking cryogenics here, folks LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this lately, since I’ve been busy focusing on a middle grade these past few weeks, while waiting to hear from an editor about a PB. Over the weekend, I pulled out a PB I’d been meaning to get back to after receiving several passes that may have been dancing around a similar issue, without sounding at first like they were the same “problem.” I found it fairly easy to look at the MS objectively after not having seen it for several months. Most of my MSS fall victim to the “shiny” syndrome when I start something new that takes all of my creative energy. Others, as you say, are missing “something” that I haven’t figured out yet. The “wait” for inspiration can be maddening.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I love revising – however, I have one PB that’s been over-revised. I need to pull it back out and think about what the story is really about. Then back to the drawing board with that perspective front and center.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Excited for an opportunity to work with “one” of my deceased manuscripts! It’s been a cold spot resting in a coffin labeled: “How Do I Find a Great Opening.” I hope to bring it back to breathing status with an infusion of revision. Thank y’all here at 6 Ladies and a MANuscript!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So… I had left a manuscript to wilt and perhaps die – but then last week I yanked it from the compost heap in prep. for zombie week. And then I messed around with it and ba-ZAM! Something sparked life in it. My take-away: I guess it needed a 6-month vacation from me. On the one hand – yay, it’s now alive and sparkly. OTOH – now I’ve gotta dig through the manuscript morgue …

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Last year I wrote a picture book story titled “The Gift Of Giving”, a story about sharing written from the perspective of a Dung Beetle in Africa. Of course, I was sure the story had great potential and would quickly rise to the top of agents’ e-mail slush piles. My critique group quickly brought me back to Earth. None of them could see any potential in a story about critters whose only source of food are balls of dung. This story continues to fester in its own special folder. Please help me resurrect it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have one manuscript that has such great potential, but I am stuck on the wrap-up and how to end it. I have shared with my critique group and we all aren’t sure what to do with it other than it DOES have great potential. So for now, it has been set aside— waiting for the perfect moment or inspiration to resurrect it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve got a story from several years ago that keeps nagging at me. I was really happy with the first half of the story, but I was never able to come up with a “wow” ending. It just fizzled. I hope to revive it this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you so much for running this awesome contest again! I used to spend way too much time revising older manuscripts and not writing enough new ones. Now that I’ve been writing at least 12 new PBs a year, I’ve noticed that some receive lots of attention and others tend to fade away a bit.

    I decided to search for PBs that are at least a few years old (some way more than that). Right now, I’m considering 6 of them, and can’t wait to see which one will be brought back to life (hopefully).

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Wow, thanks to the entire @6and_MANuscript crew for this contest, and to Kaitlyn for this post! I finally found out what this zombie week is all about after hearing writers referring to it for months! I am going to dig through my files and pick a MS to work on.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I have a story that has died and come back to life a number of times now. I think partly because my writing style might not be the same as others. I tend to have these moments that I see or experience and then a phrase or phrases float in my head. Over time the juices flow into a story. The challenge I have had with this story is unlike the other PB I was the protagonist so that doesn’t really work for a kid’s book. For a while there was a third person omniscient which was flat, then it was told from grandmother’s point of view to a child – blah, it is now a child recounting what her grandmother said so a bit better but the problem is MY point of view gave a certain emotion that the others are not – hence I keep putting it away, but then I try again.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’ve got one I know I want to work on. It’s one about divorce so I think I wrote it when the topic was too fresh and present for me. But, I still really want to see if I can find a way to express what I want with it. I owe to my kids to at least give it another try. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you again for a week dedicated to all our poor neglected zombies! I have several lying dormant for various reasons. I’m focusing on one of my older zombies that has an unlikable MC…but I love her! I think she just needed a rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This is perfect timing. I set my story aside because it just seemed like a bunch of funny vignettes without a real story arch to tie it all together. I’m psyched to try and figure it out

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Love , love, love all the punny zombie references! Since I joined 12 x 12 this year, I’ve been reviving the newly dead for my monthly stab at revisions. I think it’s time to do a deep crypt dive to see if any of the really mouldering oldies still has a spark of life.

    Like

  24. I have two zombies I LOVE but just haven’t dug deep in enough to uncover the hook… I feel them deeply, but the text doesn’t say what I feel. Setting them up on a metal pole and hoping for lightning tonight!

    Like

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