I was noticeably impressed with Flaherty’s simple use of words in The Luck of the Loch Ness Moster. Any gaps that needed filled, were done so by the illustrations. Let’s face it, nobody wants a picture book with too many words. Both children and parents alike will become easily bored.
A good guideline for children’s picture books is to shoot for 500 to 1000 words with two to three sentences per page, or even less. This is harder than it sounds. We become attached to our writing, so letting go of our words can be difficult. Have other people read the story to help identify unnecessary parts. Take a break or set your manuscript aside for a while. Use careful word choice. Words need to be descriptive, but understandable for children. And most importantly, there’s a reason it’s called a picture book. Let your pictures tell the story. The illustrations should actively provide the reader with more information not readily available in the story.
When a picture book has the right amount of words, it flows beautifully. What is your advice for chopping away at your word count?