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Art notes for illustrator - I need help

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I know you should not include in the manuscript what will be told by the pictures.  This will keep the wc down.  I've also heard that strong writing will make it known what the picture should be.  Am I out of line by putting on the manucript just one brief note of what a picture should be?  Maybe two totes tops?  Or will I irritate the illustrator?  Maybe the editor will communicate with me by saying "take this line out because it will be clear by the picture".  


 :help
jojocookie  
#1 - June 23, 2011, 04:40 PM
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 04:42 PM by jojocookie »
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Hi, Jojocookie,

'Art notes' or 'Illustration notes'  are not part of your word count. While they are usually not necessary--frowned upon, in fact---sometimes they ARE necessary. An 'art note' is only approriate when the text doesn't say what is happening. An example would be:

"As a good sister should be, she was delighted for Delia."  [She is wielding a knife, creeping up.]

or:

Mouse said, "I love my outfit."   [She is wearing full medieval armor.]

If you are talking about whether or not you should include text in your story that might be (better) conveyed by illustrations, then leave it to the illustrator. Leave as much room as possible for the illustrations.

Hope that helps...

TH



#2 - June 23, 2011, 05:23 PM

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A PB text should be full of vivid, vigorous language, but generally avoid the kind of description that will be obvious from illustration. Things that tend to fall into this category are details of scene, costume, and appearance of the characters. Some adjectives are fine because they particularly important to the story or flow of the writing. As an example, take a look at a classic PB like Harold and the Purple Crayon. Look how spare the writing is. There are some adjectives, yes. Harold has a purple crayon, and he gives his leftover pie to a hungry moose and a deserving porcupine. But they are very important adjectives for one reason or another. The particularity of the purple crayon is very satisfiying, and the hungry moose and deserving porcupine give the reader important details that may not come through in the illustration, add humor and give the line a pleasant rhythm. There are lots of things left unsaid that the illustrations fill in -- at one point, we read that "Harold made his bed." The illustration shows that he is literally "making" his bed by drawing with his crayon. Agent Linda Pratt once likened a PB to a comedy team -- the writing was the straight man, and the pictures were the punch line -- and this is a great example of that. Comb through the MS and make sure that every descriptive word would make the MS bleed to death if you remove it.

When you are not illustrating your own PB's, there may be times that you need to include an illustrator note. They should be rare and spare -- used when the "punch line" would not be evident from the text. In the example above a brief note to the side saying, "Harold draws bed with crayon" would be all you would need. I have used them myself, and have had editors tell me that they were fine to use when needed, and had editors take those manuscripts to acquisition meetings, so they must have meant it. But you have to be careful that you really need them, and that they only mention what is necessary. A note saying, "Harold, a relieved look on his face, draws a comfortable looking twin bed with a pillow and down comforter" would be a bit too much. Like rhyme, illustrator notes are typically handled badly by the inexperienced, and that is why you hear the rule repeated over and over to avoid them. A lot of authors want to make sure their "vision" for their PB is carried out, not understanding that a PB is a highly collaborative effort, and that just because they can write, it does not mean they know the best way to illustrate their story -- unless, of course, they are that most enviable of creatures, a person who is truly gifted as both an author and illustrator.

So, after all of that, sure, use an illustrator note or two if your manuscript absolutely, positively needs it. But don't rely on an editor to tell you. They expect a polished MS. If you are unsure, get an experienced person to look it over, or take it to a conference and get a critique with an expert. It is hard to be objective about our own writing!  And read lots and lots of current, excellent PB's to get a better sense of what published authors do leave in or take out. That has helped me tremendously. Hope that helps!
#3 - June 23, 2011, 05:24 PM
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The thought that the manuscript would bleed with without the decriptive word said alot to me.

I was told at a conferance that illustrators are a surly bunch.  It was okay to include a note if necessary.  I was also told at a conferance my WC should be around 400.  Now I am torn between what to include in my manuscript.  I could take aout a few words if I could write one brief note about what the picture would contain.  I do not want to appear unprofessional.

Thank you both for giving me such great information.

 :thankyou2:
jojocookie
#4 - June 23, 2011, 07:34 PM
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I often find when dealing with ADs and clients that I am trying to get them to communicate to me what the imagery needs to say. What mood, or feeling, or story point is the most important. But I'll decide who stands next to what and what they are doing, thank you very much. :)

Mmmm.... surly illustrators  :grrr
#5 - June 26, 2011, 06:47 AM

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I know it is hard to give up your baby- you put so much time in this story- and see how it should look in you head- but you really have to have faith that though the illustrator might take it somewhere you are not invisioning- giving us the freedom to do that will only make a better PB story- reality is it is only 50% your book- it is 50% the illustrators book too.
#6 - June 26, 2011, 09:10 AM

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Thank you for all the information.  It really does help.  I think I have decided to put in one brief note.  Thats all.  Hope it goes over easy.

jojocookie  :writing
#7 - June 26, 2011, 05:47 PM
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 05:49 PM by jojocookie »
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Thank you for all the information.  It really does help.  I think I have decided to put in one brief note.  Thats all.  Hope it goes over easy.

jojocookie  :writing

I'm chiming in late on this but I'm glad to hear you're including the note. If it wasn't important to the story, you wouldn't have been feeling this strongly about it. And if the editor feels it's unnecessary or best explained with text, she'll let you know. But I doubt her acceptance/rejection decision will hang on that note.

Good luck with your submission!!!
Jean
#8 - June 27, 2011, 05:12 PM
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This applies to authors who self publish only. I currently illustrated a book for an author and we went about this process in a very interesting way. The author wrote a book based on a boy. She has two young boys and was very interested in the way they responded to her comments. She asked her youngest boy to act out the actions involved in the text and took photos. Simple stuff like playing. Then she sent me the photos and said draw this action with your character. It turned out to be a very personalized book for her because it really reflected what she was intending the text to convey. It was not left up to me. She wrote it and she knew exactly what the story was supposed to reflect. Fun process. The book is called THE BOY WHO WOULDN'T SIT STILL!  I guess I should plug it now that I explained the process   http://www.theboywhowouldntsitstill.com
#9 - November 16, 2011, 07:24 PM

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