In Which Pooh Has Fun with Picture Books

Okay, not Pooh, me. I’m having fun with picture books right now.

I’m not sure if I’m actually on a roll, or if I lucked out and landed on a couple of older ideas that suddenly turned into something, or if it’s in good part because I’ve been working with a wonderful editor. Whatever the reason, I have spent the past few months revising a few picture books and feel like:

  • I’m loving the stories.
  • I’m loving the revision work itself.
  • I’ve possibly hit a new level of sorts in my writing craft–at least in this genre.
    (There is a middle-grade novel waiting for me to come back to it soon, and I’m not making any claims of writing craft on that one yet!)

I was listening to a podcast today in which an editor was comparing reading a short story to reading a novel, and she said something about how–in a short story–everything has to count. That’s not the newest idea, and I don’t actually know where she went with that thought, because I drifted off a bit into that truth about picture books.

In picture books, hoo boy, every word does count. Seriously, this past weekend, I changed a number in one line from “eleven” to “fourteen,” and I am SO much happier with that line. It has something to do with the two syllables having a better rhythm in that line than three. And it has something to do with there being a “t” sound in fourteen and in the word that follows it. And it has a lot to do with the fact that when I swapped words, the line sang much more sweetly than it had before.

Yes, it’s harder to make every single word count, but I seem to get less lost and drifty when I’m revising a picture book, than I do in a novel. (This week, at least–don’t hold me to this statement in April!) And while I don’t expect to ever write a rhyming picture book, I love discovering the rhythm that goes best with each story. I am tone deaf, but I know when I’ve written a line in a picture book that “sounds” flat. And I know when I rewrite the line and hit the true note.

Where am I going with this? No idea! I’m having thoughts about the middle-grade that may, once I dig back in, get me past “stuck.” And I haven’t yet gone back to my pile of picture book ideas to see if any of them spark in my mind. Probably I’ll do both.

For now, I’m just letting myself fall in love with writing again.


  1. This is wonderful to read, Becky! What a great leap forward to make (leaps forward take lots of steps leading up to them, I’ve noticed.) I had written a lot of blather after that, and decided I was getting lost and drifty, so I cut that bit. There’s power in knowing what to cut.


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