Shorter is Sweeter?

Sometime last month I mentioned that I was going to attempt kitlitart’s picture book challenge. I like children, writing, and drawing, so I thought it would be fun.

Oh Batman, it is so hard.

You’ve got to make sure you’re telling a complete, easy-to-understand story in a very few amount of words. You’ve got to make sure that you’re not using any words that are too big. (Something I suspect I am failing at greatly.) And you’ve got to make sure there’s something in the story that the child can identify with.

I got writer’s block 123 words in and spent some time attempting to draw a station wagon. It turns out that I cannot draw station wagons. Alas. If this story ever sees the light of day, I hope they hire someone else to draw the final pictures.

And I got to thinking that, for me, shorter is harder. Those six-word stories? Can’t wrap my brain around them. I can manage a twitter story every once in a blue moon, and flash fiction is something that continuously eludes me. Once we get into short story territory, I’m fine, though I do tend towards the longer end (3-8K).  Succinct just isn’t in my blood.

It’s somewhat bell curvy, because there’s an upper limit (about 100K) that I can’t seem to get past either.

Any tips for picture books, Squiders? Do you find shorter works to be easier or harder? Where’s your comfort zone?

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by shannon on 2012/02/21 at 10:09 AM

    Have you went to the library to read other kids books recently? It may help quite a bit.

    The ones aimed at babies don’t have a lot of words, but use whatever words work.
    The ones aimed at preschoolers don’t even try to use easy words. Nor do they try to keep it really short.
    When you do start to see the carefully chosen words and one sentence pages is the beginning readers. Those are very much not regular picture books. The pictures always give hints to the hard work on the page (elephant, rhinocerous, etc)

    The books we buy for our four year old are harder and longer to read than what our first grader is reading.

    Reply

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