Picture books should have about 500 words. Not 700, not 900, and NOT 1,075!! Mom dug out (from inside her computer) an old story of hers called Mail for Jessica. She always thought this would be her official Book #2. Waaaay back then, when picture books were about 1,000 words, Mom framed the manuscript and hung it up because she was THAT sure it would be snapped up and published any minute.
Cut to a hundred million years later (yesterday), and that big, overgrown story is still hanging unpublished on the wall and still sitting unpublished inside the Dropbox. Mom said, “It’s too long!” and “There are so many words I don’t need.” and “Where’s your stuffed watermelon?”
Just like people and dogs, picture books should have only what they NEED. That’s what makes a story tight and fresh and filled with possibilities for success.
Mom needs her ice pack for a little while each day. She says she does NOT need my bony head on her sore leg.
Sometimes, cutting out the extra stuff isn’t as easy as it sounds…..
The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
There’s been plenty of lightning and thunder the past few weeks around here.
It’s been bright and loud and unexpected and wild and relentless. I am not afraid of the lightning and thunder at all. Mom says I am afraid of so many things, I don’t have room in my brain to be afraid of storms. Actually, I kind of like these crazy storms, because they make Mom stay home with me.
I also kind of like lightning bugs.
Whenever Mom takes me out at night, I see those blinky things flying all over the place. She won’t let me chase them, though. She says, “Don’t pull me!” and “Heel!!” and “That’s enough craziness for one day. It’s time for bed.” I haven’t caught a lightning bug yet. But when I do, I’m pretty sure it’ll taste like lemon candy.
Mom is not nuts about storms or bugs, but she is nuts about words. They are her favorite things in the world (besides me).
She writes words and counts words and reads the words out loud to herself. Then she deletes them and changes them and takes some out and puts some new ones in. She is ALWAYS looking for the right word.
Mom says adverbs are poison. I am not allowed to eat poison. I tried it once and it wasn’t fun.
Mom uses SmartEdit to find the poison adverbs and get rid of them and then she searches in the Thesaurus to replace them with a perfect verb that does the same job only better. “Walked quickly, looked carefully, and laughed loudly” are OUT. “Raced, inspected, and roared” are IN.
Maybe tonight, “Heel” will be OUT and “Gulp. Slurp. Yum- Lemon” will be IN.
Today, I’m keeping it to five little words. They are words that look forward to the new year of 2012.
Yep. I think that’s five…..
Mom understands word count. It is what it is, and it can’t be messed with. 500 words means 500 words. Under a thousand is not 1,152. I think that must be difficult for her. For one thing, she HATES numbers. And for another, she LOVES words. Lots and lots and lots of words.
Mom says, “Ugh this has to be cut.” and “There’s too much jibber-jabber in this story.” and “Why are there 17 toys on the couch?”
See what I mean about numbers? I’m sure there are only 14 or 15 toys here.
Last week, Mom sent my picture to a TV show. I’m not a diva or anything, but we’re hoping I get to be on television. She was allowed to have some words in the picture, but the word count was three. THREE! Like 1, 2, 3 words. Whoa. That is one small word count.
Ho. Ho. Woof. Merry Christmas, everybody!