Opening Up

Once upon a time, I used to agree that picture book writers had to put much more time into selecting each individual word than novelists. After all, picture book writers can have anywhere from seven words to three thousand words to work with as they work to tell an entire story.* 

I can’t speak for every novelist, but I have to say, as a person who has recently finished another draft of another first chapter,  that I am willing to put my efforts at trying to find just the right word on a par with even the pickiest of picture book writers. Effort and effect are two different things naturally.  I probably still don’t have everything where it needs to be, but I’m ready to move on. 


*And yes, I personally know writers at each end of the scale. In fact, Shutta Crum’s delightful MINE! uses the same word seven times.  I’m actually not sure exactly how many words finally wound up in Jeanie Franz Ransom’s Land of Enchantment Book Award Winner WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO HUMPTY? Maybe it wasn’t quite three thousand words, but it was ridiculously close to that in a time where most editors are looking for projects that are much, much short.  The editors kept asking for more jokes and Jeanie kept delivering them. 



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7 Responses to “Opening Up”

  1. Ann Finkelstein Says:

    Yes, the right word with the right sound and the right rhythm.

  2. stephanie bearce Says:

    I can attest that you are painstaking with your words, and that is why you are a success. And why your books are wonderful!

  3. Kristin Wolden Nitz Says:

    Ann, you’re so right about the importance of sounds and rhythms in addition to nuance.

  4. Kristin Wolden Nitz Says:

    It’s so helpful to have people like you, Stephanie, to let me know what’s really on the page!

  5. SueBE Says:

    Renaissance Learning says that there are 1989 words in Jeanie’s book. If I remember correctly, the second one is longer still. You both put an amazing amount of work into telling your stories, but, as Stephanie has pointed out, that does explain their success.

  6. Kristin Wolden Nitz Says:

    Thanks, Sue! I stand corrected on the HUMPTY word count. I’ll have to rememberthat RL has word counts.

  7. L.J. Launer Says:

    Just finished reading your novel SUSPECT. I am very pleased with the style and the characters. Augusta and greater St. Louis are so realistic, I can pinpoint every place in that novel. You have done an excellent job and I appreciate the work you have done.

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