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Internal Thought

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Not sure if this is the correct forum, but here goes.

I am working on revisions of a pb ms.  In a couple places I have internal thought and wondering.  I was curious if I could set it up where a cloud or bubble forms over the MC's head showing these thoughts instead of telling. 

For instance, one of the lines in my ms right now is:
Justin tripped on a stick.  “Hmmm…”  Buster loves sticks.  He loves chewing on them and tossing them in the air.  Justin had an idea.

I was thinking that an illustration of Justin holding a stick and inside a cloud above his head a picture of Buster playing happily with a stick.

If I went that way, then I would need illustrator notes, since I am not an illustrator.  Is this something an agent or publisher would accept?  Would it be something that I would describe in the query?  Or am I not allowed to give any direction on illustrations at all?

Thank you!
#1 - March 12, 2014, 08:55 AM

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Illustration notes are fine in moderation, and you don't need to mention them in a query. However, they should be limited only to what's necessary to understand the story. For instance, you wouldn't want to add an illustration note saying that Justin has green eyes and brown hair (unless it's absolutely critical to the plot). Those sorts of details are the illustrator's job.

In the example you gave, if the words:

"Justin tripped on a stick.  Hmmm?  Buster loves sticks.  He loves chewing on them and tossing them in the air.  Justin had an idea."

...are actually in the text of the book, I wouldn't put in an illustration note for that. The illustrator will figure out the best way to show it, whether it's a thought cloud or something entirely different that you haven't even considered. :-)

An example of a place where you *would* want to use an illustration note is somewhere that the text of the book doesn't adequately convey the action. For instance:

"Fiddlesticks!" Justin yelled. [Illustration note: Justin trips over a stick.]

...a note there is ok, because you need Justin to trip over the stick, but you aren't telling us about it in the text.
#2 - March 12, 2014, 10:04 AM

Thank you Anthony.  I thought I could eliminate the text,  Buster loves sticks.  He loves chewing on them and tossing them in the air, by turning the words into an illustration.
This internal thought actually leads to an idea.  I thought a bubble above Justin head showing a picture of Buster happily chewing on a stick would show how the idea came about.

#3 - March 12, 2014, 11:43 AM

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It's my understanding that illustration notes should be kept to a minimum and used how Anthony mentioned above.

When I'm working on a picture book draft, I know the art I see in my head is nothing like what would would actually make it to a book--which is a good thing for this non-artist! So I try to leave a lot of room for an illustrator. If my words in a scene are basically handing the story to the reader, I feel like I need to choose my words a little differently, along the lines of show don't tell.

If that internal thought leads to an idea, maybe there's a way to show Buster's love of sticks through words earlier in the story or in a difference scene. Salt this advice as needed :) Good luck!
#4 - March 12, 2014, 12:37 PM

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Ok, I see. I can't say for sure without knowing the whole story, but you could see if it works without the text AND without the illustration note. The important thing is that he has an idea. It might not matter so much how he got the idea. But if you feel the internal thought is important, it's fine to include a brief illustration note. Erin had a good suggestion as well, about possibly foreshadowing the love of sticks earlier in the story.

I wouldn't worry about it too much. As long as you aren't dictating details of *how* things should look, or giving an illustration note every other line, you'll be fine.
#5 - March 12, 2014, 01:06 PM

Thank you @erinobrien and @Anthony.

I've decided to add it into the story earlier.  Sometimes I have a hard time with differentiating between "show don't tell" and giving the illustrator leeway in illustrating.  If that makes any sense at all.
#6 - March 12, 2014, 01:32 PM


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