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Spot the Difference: This Book Is Definitely Not Cursed

Updated: May 7

Guest Blog Post by Megan Woodward


A lot of what I changed from earlier drafts was to reduce word count. You’ll notice that even the title was way too long when I first started. So that was one of the first things to change— I can’t remember whether it was one of my critique partners or a 12x12 member, but someone pointed out that the title could be just “THIS BOOK IS DEFINITELY NOT CURSED” because that’s really what it’s about anyway. And it’s shorter and way more intriguing.

In the first draft, I listed all the people who’d be cursed if they’re reading the book with you— such as teachers, parents, grandparents, siblings, etc… but cut it because it was too long, and “anyone reading it with you” encompasses all of that anyway. And I changed “even the lice on your head” to “that weird bug on your shoulder” because it was funnier, less disgusting, and might make kids look at their shoulder.

I added a line to explain what a curse is, because someone pointed out that many kids may not know that. I also added some fun reverse psychology…. “If you shut the book now… you might be safe… so don’t turn another page…” Because obviously kids are going to be MORE intrigued by that, and it adds suspense and stakes in a book that doesn’t really have a traditional plot. I think that also might have been a note from my editor at Simon and Schuster.

One bigger change was due to another note from my editor. She wanted the narrator to feel like an actual character, so visually, it could BE a character that an illustrator could have fun creating. So the whole bit about “I’m a cursed narrator, and I tricked you into reading this book so I could be free of the curse” was added for that reason. I think it was a super smart choice because the character Risa Rodil drew is so freaking adorable and mischievous. Also it’s much more interesting than a faceless narrator just talking to the reader through words on the page.

One interesting change was the replacing of celery with cabbage as the thing that all your food will taste like due to the curse. I had sent an early draft to a friend and she read it to her son, who happened to love celery so he didn’t get why it was bad that all your foods would taste like celery. I decided celery was maybe too kid friendly, so I changed it to cabbage… which is not as common among kid snacks, and although it isn’t particularly hated, NOBODY, not even adults would want ALL of their food to taste like cabbage. Also, I was taught in comedy screenwriting that hard “c” sounds are often funny. And if you read it both ways, cabbage DOES sound a lot funnier than celery.

A lot of the other parts such as the curse symptoms and the steps to curse reversal stayed relatively similar, with some cutting and rewriting to make them more concise and funny. I did remove the singing of the ABC’s… which was kind of boring. You’ll notice that the poem I wrote that you need to recite in a high pitched voice… that poem (limerick) is almost the exact same as my first draft, which only changing one word: “goofy” to “foolish.”

Finally, my editor had one more note that we needed sort of a good joke to punch out on…. Something that brings back earlier jokes and ties it all together. That’s when I came up with: ‘And if, by some chance, you DON’T manage to reverse the curse, look on the bright side: you’ll have a lifetime supply of free noodles….. nose noodles, that taste like cabbage."

Side-by-side comparison:

One of my first drafts:

Published Version:

This Book is the Best!

(and is definitely not cursed)

by Megan Woodward

This Book Is Definitely Not Cursed

by Megan Woodward

Oh no! I can’t believe you fell for that!

This book is NOT the best. And it’s DEFINITELY cursed. Hasn’t anyone ever told you not to

judge a book by its cover?!

Oh well. Too late now. You opened the book. Now you’re cursed. And anyone who’s reading it

with you is also cursed! That includes, but is not limited to: parents, siblings, teachers,

grandparents, babysitters, pets, robots, imaginary friends, and even the lice on your head.

Ha! You actually fell for that?

It's a huge mistake to judge a book by its cover, because this one is definitely cursed.

And since you opened it, now, you're cursed. So is anyone reading it with you, including that weird bug on your shoulder.

One of my first drafts:

Published Version:

What’s that? You don’t have lice? Well maybe not yet. But who knows what will happen now

you’ve opened this book….

You’re probably thinking: “This is bogus. Curses aren’t real.” Well I want you to stop reading and listen.

What did you hear? A low hum? A whir of a fan? A clock ticking? Wind blowing? Traffic?

Someone breathing?

Those are all sounds of the curse’s magic!

If you can’t hear anything at all, you need to get your ears checked!

At least not yet. But it could be part of the curse...

What's a curse? It's like a magic spell that makes strange, annoying things happen to you.

Being cursed is bad news.

The good news is, you've only read a few pages. If you close the book now, you MIGHT be safe. Maybe just your pinkie finger will be cursed.

So close it quick! Don't turn another...

It worked! I KNEW you'd do the opposite of what I told you. See, as the narrator of a cursed book, I'm cursed, too.

But if I trick enough people into reading this book, then I'll be set free.


Megan Woodward is an author, ghostwriter, copywriter, and freelance editor. She holds an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, and is also a working and produced comedy screenwriter and the scriptwriter for the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. Her debut picture book, THIS BOOK IS DEFINITELY NOT CURSED (Simon and Schuster) will be released June 25, 2024. She is also the author of the forthcoming, JAKE MADDOX DANCE, GYMNASTICS, AND CHEERLEADING JOKES (Capstone 2024). She specializes in all things humorous and finds no greater joy than making kids laugh. When she’s not writing or procrastinating from writing, you can find her cooking, hiking, singing, laughing or working part time at a children’s book store called Green Bean Books. Megan lives with her family in Portland, OR where it rains all the time, but never on her parade. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @womeganwo, or at

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2 comentários

Robin Currie
Robin Currie
07 de mai.

Comment below is from me - Robin Currie. Forgot to sign in!


07 de mai.

It is so fun to look back at what was - and very humbling to see what I come with on my own and how good it gets after critique!

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