Can you write a picture book or short story in 1000 words? How about 800 words? 500 words? 50 words?
For this exercise, write a picture book or short story complete with beginning, middle and end in 1000 words. Then, read what you've written and try to edit it down to 800 words (or as close to it as you can come.) Then read what you've written and try to edit it to 500 words. Can you do it?
When you've gotten the word count down as far as you can, try writing a 50 word synopsis of your story.
The object of the exercise is to be aware of what words you use to write your story, and to help you identify ways to tighten up your work. In picture books, every word counts. (Hints: look for weed words like just, like, so; remove passive voice; use action verbs. Can you come up with others?) You may find that you need every single word in your 1000 word picture book, or you may find that you can edit out 200, even 500 words and end up with a better story.
Writing a 50 word synopsis helps you understand how to concisely convey the core of your story and its emotional impact.