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#FirstDraftFriday with CK Malone

Author CK Malone is today's #FirstDraftFriday guest, and they have—as Jane Yolen would say—put "heart on page" with their debut picture book. Check out how their story came to be and get inspired...then get writing yourself!

Cover of My Sister, Daisy

CK is generously offering a manuscript critique as a prize for someone who completes a draft today! Details at the end of this post.

CK Malone’s debut picture book, A COSTUME FOR CHARLY, illustrated by Alejandra Barajas, will be out in just 4 days (on Sept. 6) from Beaming Books.

Pre-order your copy now at:

CK, tell us a little about your book and what inspired you to sit down and write the first draft of it?

So CHARLY came from my own bigender experience. When I was younger, I cobbled together a costume that felt more “me.” My friends and family know my identity, but I kept it very separate from work until I was outed. And there were so many questions people at work had! After that, I was like “Well, CK, you always wanted to write a picture book so you might as well just get to it.”

What was your drafting process like? Any hiccups with getting the first draft done?

The first draft of CHARLY flowed quite quickly, TBH. Then came the anxiety. Then came stress. Then PTSD. These feelings didn’t come from writing. They came from being worried about not only telling my own story but also the responsibility of writing the bigender experience. It’s my voice, but I am also one voice for my community. That’s a very, very hard task. I have to make sure to check my own feelings and write fiction objectively. There are still items I look at and want to fix. This is why, on my website, I discuss identity in one of the tabs.

How did the manuscript change from that draft to what it is today?

Oh, my dear Lord! The first draft involved the people who actually helped me. But I received comments that CHARLY didn’t have their own agency. I had to cut so much. It hurt me to do so. However, my peeps show up in other books, so I felt a bit better. Still, I mourned their loss in the PB.

Are you a pantser or a plotter? And how does that affect your drafting of a story?

I’m a COMPLETE pantser, and I refuse to budge from the chair until I’ve drafted the picture book I’m working on at the time. This means there are so many more revisions, though. (This makes me sometimes wish I could be a plotter.)

Do you ever find yourself putting off drafting a story?

I’m putting it off right now as I’m writing this response. I keep thinking about the concept and am really excited about it, but I won’t sit down and write until I’m ready. So this story has been waiting for three weeks.

What is the hardest part of drafting a story for you? And how do you deal with that?

I would say the hardest part is making sure I truly stick to the conflict. I often use comment bubbles on my own drafts as I write to remind myself to go back to a part during the next revision. I type all my drafts for this very reason.

What are your tips and tricks for getting that first draft committed to the page?

Don’t rush or force yourself to write the first draft. The draft will flow when your mind and heart are ready and fully committed to the act of writing. Writing should be what you do for yourself and your enjoyment first. This will equal a more authentic draft no matter how many revisions you’ll need to complete afterward.

So, who's ready to commit to the act of writing? I hope you all are...because #FirstDraftFriday has begun!

To enter for a chance at a free critique of a picture book manuscript from CK (fiction, non-rhyming, 1500 words or less), do the following by 8 pm ET today (Sept. 2, 2022):

  1. Follow both me and CK on Twitter: @HollieWolverton and @CKMalone2

  2. Complete a full picture book draft

  3. Return to this blog post and comment that you’ve completed your draft and provide your Twitter handle. You will need to Sign Up/Log In to leave a comment (it’s easy - just an email and password).

You don’t need to send in your draft or provide proof - we’re all about the honor system here! The lucky winner will be randomly drawn from the comments and announced on Twitter shortly after 8 pm ET tonight.

Happy writing!

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