How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Writing Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur Author... and How to Avoid Them

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Word Choice in Picture Books, part 2

Last Wednesday, I wrote about the importance of expanding children's vocabulary by using bigger words, even though they may not know exactly what they mean - in picture books.

Today, I'd like to write about how difficult writing a picture book is.  Picture books are often considered the hardest to write.  Why?  You have to tell a whole story, with setup, character, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution - all within about 500-1500 words (for the 4-8 year old picture book).  And most good picture books are either repetitive or lyrical, or a combination of the two.  Every word must count.

  • So you changed "slowly walked" to "sauntered."  Good!  Change multiple words to fewer words that mean the same thing.  
  • Now, make sure every word is the right word.  Do you use...  
    • dog or hound
    • cat or calico
    • flower or dahlia
    • on or with
    • to or for
    • him or her
Just kidding about the last one, but I hope you get the point.  Every word must be the exact one that the story needs to give it the right mood, voice, etc.  So, choose your words carefully.  And keep on keepin' on!

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