Thursday, January 29, 2009


I often spend hours, days and sometimes months searching for the perfect word.

When you write poetry and picture books, every word counts. And the quest for the perfect word becomes a roller coaster of ups and downs, twists and spills until one word socks you in the stomach, simultaneously exhilarates and scares as you're jerked into the final turn and giddily exit the page . You read and reread, out loud, the sentence, paragraph, page, manuscript until you know in your writer's heart that you can move your reader to feel, see, touch, smell, taste, experience, live and recreate your story in their imagination.

Once you write something down and give it to your reader, the words are no longer yours but a shared experience of your black and white and their color. You can't sit on their shoulder and explain the feelings they're suppose to experience or cue a laugh track, so picking the perfect words, the words that evoke the images you want to create in their minds, is how you make your words feel.


  1. yes every word counts, every letter, every semicolon. That's why we hate missprints, I mean misprints! I hate to think of a better word once the book is printed.

  2. And that feeling when you finally find it? Best feeling ever.

  3. But Douglas, don't you always think of a better word the moment you know you can't change anything, even when you already thought you had the perfect word? I do since I am a perpetual reviser.

    Kelly, Jacqui---Word up!

    Years ago, before I was a writer and I was in biz school learning LIFO, FIFO and ROI, I used to sing Cameo's WORD UP! all the time. It was a sign:) OK, no age jokes here:)

  4. Mark Twain said it best (something he did quite often): “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

  5. Yup, the moment it's in print the better word or phrase appears.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

join the mailing list

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner