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Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: Nanci on August 05, 2013, 11:20 PM

Title: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Nanci on August 05, 2013, 11:20 PM
Hi,
Is there a word count that one really shouldn't exceed when
writing a bedtime book? I know that for babies and toddlers,
short short seems preferable to most people, but what about
ages 4-7?

And books about bedtime aren't limited to just bedtime reading,
as a lot are read at other times of the day, so they don't
necessarily need to be short for the reason of time constraints
or if parents are tired by then?

Hope this made sense, lol. It's past my own bedtime, and I'm
super sleepy as I write this...

Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: JodyJS on August 06, 2013, 04:19 AM
Hi Nanci,

Because most (all?) bedtime books are picture books, around 500 words (or fewer) is about right.

Jody
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Kurtis on August 06, 2013, 04:48 AM
Good Night Construction Site feels a wee bit longer than others, but I can't confirm because it's not in the AR database (and I'm not going to count by hand). It could very well be under 500 words, and I think that's a good length for a bedtime book.
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Lwrites on August 06, 2013, 08:52 AM
Good Night Construction Site feels a wee bit longer than others, but I can't confirm because it's not in the AR database (and I'm not going to count by hand). It could very well be under 500 words, and I think that's a good length for a bedtime book.

I was curious, so I looked. It's 526 words.
The Renaissance Learning database is a wonderful thing. Search any kidlit book, get word count:
http://www.renlearn.com/store/quiz_home.asp
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Kurtis on August 06, 2013, 09:26 AM
Hm, that's exactly what I was using and didn't find it. :scratches head:

ETA: Still couldn't, then finally found it by the author's name... and the reason I had so much trouble is, I didn't realize "goodnight" was one word.
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Kurtis on August 06, 2013, 09:31 AM
Just for the heck of it, here's a photo of the author (Sherri Rinker) reading to my son and another kid I don't know.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/15126960@N04/8676839934
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Nanci on August 06, 2013, 10:33 AM
Thanks, you guys.
And awww, that is a sweet pic, Kurtis.

I used that RL database last month to search
wd.counts for several bedtime books, and so far the
highest I have found is about 500 wds, as you all
are saying, too, for a max count. I wondered if 645
is too much, which is where mine sits now.

I've tried to cut, but I really need to try harder it seems.
Eeek, this is difficult!
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Kurtis on August 06, 2013, 10:45 AM
I would try really hard to get it under 600, Nanci.
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: poet on August 06, 2013, 03:59 PM
Just chiming in to say I agree about the 500 word target length.  And for really little ones, I'd shoot for even shorter.  Have fun revising!
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Nanci on August 06, 2013, 05:38 PM
Gosh, I've cut 8 words already.
Not a lot, lol, but a start.

 :fireworks
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: JodyJS on August 06, 2013, 06:23 PM
Nanci,

A good critiquer could probably find some words for you to part with.

Jody
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Hélène Boudreau on August 07, 2013, 07:12 AM
One thing to look for while cutting is 'stage direction'. These are phrases that get your character or objects from one place to another or descriptions of things or people, which are probably not necessary since illustrations will make them redundant.

I'm a big-time abuser of stage direction so I need to be careful of it while writing novels and even MORE so when writing picture books because of illustrations.

Here's a blog post that touches on what I mean: http://michellezink.com/editing-corner-stage-direction
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Hélène Boudreau on August 07, 2013, 07:14 AM
And PS my bedtime book is apparently 338 words. :)

http://goo.gl/V1Zgo5
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Nanci on August 07, 2013, 10:58 AM
Hi Jody,
It's been critiqued once so far, and the critiquer did
suggest certain cuts. But when I did that, and it
improved the word count, I somehow added a few
more lines to a different area of the book that I
thought made it more cohesive. So I ended up
sort of at square one. Silly. But now I've begun
to cut again, so maybe I can get there, lol.
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: JodyJS on August 07, 2013, 11:07 AM
You can do it!  :clapping
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Nanci on August 07, 2013, 11:09 AM
Helene,
That was a big issue of mine, too.
Too many stage directions!
I took them out, the excessive, not needed ones.
And now I think there are about 35 other words
that could/should be replaced with illustrations,
so that sort of counts as cutting, right? lol, prob
not, as it should be submitted already shorter
I would think.

Your book is so adorable. And short. That really
is the combo to strive for. Short is just so hard
for me!

Can't wait to jump to that blog post - thank you!
Title: Re: Bedtime Book Length
Post by: Robertvs on June 23, 2014, 03:09 PM
Old but relevant... I?d probably do 100 words/year?

Baby and board books (0-2) would rarely go over 200; Picture books (3-5) would stay at most 500.

Also considering it?s for bedtime, at the end of day, when both child and parent are tired, you?d probably want to aim for less as well. (maybe even 50 words/year)

And especially for the 0-2 range, rhythm and rhyme would be very important.