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illustration notes

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Opinions on illustrator notes? I personally do not like them and would rather leave the words in the manuscript and then have the words edited out once the illustrator is on board. It does save on word count but I am still not a fan.

John heard c-r-u-u-u-n-ch. Looking out his window, he saw a cat going down the path. Gathering his spy gear, John head out too.
(This is just a made up example).
John heard c-r-u-u-u-n-ch. Looking out his window, he saw a cat going down the path. [Illustration note: John grabs spy gear and heads out the door].

#1 - November 17, 2016, 04:31 PM

I prefer to use illustration notes so that I can get the text as precise and tight as I can. I do use illustration notes for things that are happening that aren't evident in the text. My agent is fine with it.
#2 - November 17, 2016, 07:13 PM

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I would use illustrator notes for the reason Heather says above. You want the manuscript to be tight and need as little editing as possible by the time you submit it. Good luck!
#3 - November 18, 2016, 06:13 PM
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I do use illustration notes when necessary. As most PB authors do. But it's a fine line whether to include or not.

Things to ask yourself before deciding whether to include each one:

Is this illustration note necessary to show what's happening? Without it will the text be unclear? If the answers are yes, then include it.

Also ask yourself this:

Is this illustration telling the illustrator what to illustrate? Ex: What color something is? What the character looks like? And from your example : 'Heads out the door'. These are a no, don't include. (the grabbing spy gear may be necessary, not sure without reading the whole story) The illustrator has to have room to tell your text through their art. They have to be able to do their job without being dictated on what to do, such as heading out the door. Perhaps the illustrator sees them as climbing out a window after all, they are grabbing spy gear. :)

My point is. Each and every art note you write ask yourself one question. Is this art note necessary to the story? If yes, include. If no, don't.

#4 - November 18, 2016, 07:39 PM
« Last Edit: November 18, 2016, 07:41 PM by Schriscoe »
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Here’s a balanced explanation given by Mary Kole, a former kidlit agent, and kidlit editor extraordinaire, about when and only when illustrator notes are to be used:

“The point of an illustration note isn’t to jot down every single thing that’s in your imagination. It’s also not to micromanage the potential illustrator. The point of an illustration note is to convey something to the manuscript reader that is not obvious from the text.

Only use illustration notes in your picture book manuscript if there is something integral to the plot that you want the illustrations to convey, but it’s not described or alluded to anywhere in the text. In other words, if I will be blind to something from just reading the text, use an illustration note to describe it, but really do keep them simple, spare, and few in number.”

Kole’s entire blog post is an excellent read and her examples of when to use a note and when not to are great.

That said, in your example, Sashie, I would say that if you leave the spy gear out of the text (which, as you say, would be good to do if the illustration shows the gear) then you would need to put in the illustrator's note. I would think, though, that if you explain in your query that the main character is headed out the window with spy gear in hand and subsequent scenes show him using his spy gear, then the reader of your ms will visualize the spy gear without the note.
#5 - November 19, 2016, 10:26 AM

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I was also thinking the spy gear is likely to be mentioned later and wouldn't need a note at all. Also, it can be important to mention some things that will be illustrated. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse is a good example. The purse is described and the description is repeated. This shows how important it really is to Lilly and what makes it special. It also has great rhythm as a phrase.
#6 - November 20, 2016, 08:56 PM
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John heard c-r-u-u-u-n-ch. Looking out his window, he saw a cat going down the path. [Illustration note: John grabs spy gear and heads out the door].

Potential problem with this is, text is saying he looked out the window, see's a cat.... Illustration, if the Illustrator were to follow the instruction, would only show grabbing the spy gear and running out the door. If you truly picture that page, it's disjointed as a visual coupled with the text.
It would be possible to show in vignettes on one page, him looking out the window at the cat (to go with text) the other showing him grabbing gear etc. It could also be a spread, on page showing him looking out at the cat, as in text, the other page showing him grabbing gear, rushing out without any text. In that particular example, I'd leave all the text in, no notes for now and let the AD, Editor and Illustrator figure out if they can "show" and potentially cut the excess text of him rushing out with the gear.
#7 - November 21, 2016, 04:32 AM
« Last Edit: November 21, 2016, 04:37 AM by christripp »
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Thanks! Very helpful.
#8 - November 26, 2016, 07:02 AM


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