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Writer's Room => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: Anthony Casale on January 08, 2022, 05:07 AM

Title: Help with formatting text in a children's picture book manuscript
Post by: Anthony Casale on January 08, 2022, 05:07 AM
Hello, all!  First time children's book writer here with a question about formatting text for a picture book manuscript.  My book is going to have almost no dialogue, and the text of the book will average only 2-3 words per page.  I have in mind a layout that calls for most of a given page to have an illustration, and the words for that page (which need to be in ALL CAPS for reasons related to what the book is about) will go at the bottom.   So, with that in mind, here's an example of the way that I'm currently writing the page descriptions in my first draft manuscript.  (NOTE: This is not actual text from my book, but it will get the point across.)

Example A:
A monkey on a carousel, clearly having a great time.
Below the image: MONKEY AROUND

Furthermore, I have a couple of pages that need to have two panels on a page, arranged on top of each other, with the text in between them.  So again, here's a made-up example of what I have in mind:

Example B:
Top panel: A steaming hot plate of fried chicken with a side of rice, sitting on a dinner table.
Bottom panel: Two anthropomorphic chickens - a bride and groom - are walking hand-in-hand toward the reader.  They are flanked by a bunch of excited anthropomorphic animal onlookers, many of whom are throwing rice at them.
Between the panels: CHICKEN AND RICE

Please let me know if I'm on to something, or if there's a better way to get the point across.  I'm very new at this, so I'm open to any and all opinions or suggestions.  Thank you!
Title: Re: Help with formatting text in a children's picture book manuscript
Post by: David Wright on January 08, 2022, 06:55 AM
Hi Anthony

Just to clarify: You are not an illustrator. You are just supplying the 50 or so words of text. Correct?
And you want to provide direction for the illustrator on every page/spread that explains the pun?

Or do you do both, and are just looking for a way to separate the text?
Title: Re: Help with formatting text in a children's picture book manuscript
Post by: Anthony Casale on January 08, 2022, 07:37 AM
Hi David,

Correct, I am not the illustrator.  I'm writing the text (the ALL CAPS words), and am providing brief descriptions of each pun in my manuscript for the illustrator.

My biggest concern is... Is the way that I wrote out my examples appropriate for a manuscript, or is there a better and/or more industry-standard way of presenting this material to a publisher?
Title: Re: Help with formatting text in a children's picture book manuscript
Post by: Vijaya on January 08, 2022, 12:42 PM
Maybe this will help because what I think you're writing is a nearly wordless PB: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=91352.msg1124270#msg1124270
Title: Re: Help with formatting text in a children's picture book manuscript
Post by: Anthony Casale on January 08, 2022, 01:55 PM
Hi Vijaya,

I'm actually using the Linda Ashman example as a guide for my first draft of the manuscript.  Technically, the book won't be wordless: every page will have text, but only 2-3 words.  The text on each page will be a punny phrase that ties into the image above it.

I think my biggest question is: is using phrases like "below the image" in a manuscript an appropriate way to express how/where to place text?
Title: Re: Help with formatting text in a children's picture book manuscript
Post by: Vijaya on January 08, 2022, 04:22 PM
Great! I'm so glad you already know of Linda's work. It's one thing to give stage directions but quite another to spell out everything. Ask yourself what's necessary and go with that. Good luck!
Title: Re: Help with formatting text in a children's picture book manuscript
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on January 08, 2022, 06:25 PM
I wonder how much text placement actually matters in your book. It wouldn't change much if the text were above the monkey or next to him. It also doesn't matter if the monkey is having a good time. Keep your illustration notes as short as possible. Text placement, especially is up to the artist and art director. The more standard form is below.

Monkey around. [Art Note: Monkey on a merry go round.]

There are some books like this on the market, though it may be none are new. It is certainly worth asking at a book store and library to see what is out there. Then you could google the authors and artists and maybe even find things on how they put their work together. Good luck.
Title: Re: Help with formatting text in a children's picture book manuscript
Post by: Anthony Casale on January 10, 2022, 10:50 AM
Thanks a lot, Debbie! I will keep all of this in mind as I move forward.