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How many scenes minimum?

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I'm doing a bunch of conference critiques and coming across some PB mss. that don't seem to have enough illustratable scenes. I know there's some minimum number editors look for . . . can anyone refresh my memory?
#1 - October 23, 2012, 11:38 AM
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13-14 minimum, but more is certainly better.
#2 - October 23, 2012, 12:16 PM
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I've heard 16, myself, but I don't disagree with Katie since I don't know what's authoritative.

#3 - October 23, 2012, 12:20 PM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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Okay, I just went and counted in the first three picture books I picked up:  29, 17, 29.
#4 - October 23, 2012, 12:22 PM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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Wow--29 is more than I expected, Anne Marie.  I thought shooting for at least 16 unique and interesting scenes would be enough.

Out of curiosity, can you share which picture books they were?   
#5 - October 23, 2012, 12:51 PM

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They were VAMPIRINA BALLERINA, Jarrett Krosoczka's BAGHEAD, and Mo Willems' KNUFFLE BUNNY.  I counted spot illos separately, except when they were joined together somehow (like in VAMPIRINA, when a whole series of spots of dancing really equal one double-page spread).

I can count a different one than VAMPB if you want. :)
#6 - October 23, 2012, 01:18 PM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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I just picked up the two PB's sitting closest to me.  SPLISH-SPLASH has 13 scenes, and LITTLE WHITE RABBIT has 14.
#7 - October 23, 2012, 01:25 PM
AN EYEBALL IN MY GARDEN, Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
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Thanks, you guys! Very helpful.
#8 - October 23, 2012, 02:55 PM
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When I'm teaching picture book writing, I recommend having 16 to 22 solid, different, unique illustratable scenes for a strong manuscript. That allows plenty for an illustrator to pick from.
#9 - October 23, 2012, 06:22 PM
Verla Kay

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Maybe this is an ignorant question, but what is a scene and how do I count them?

The first thing I would think of is the background: does the background change? And then see if focus of the character(s) or action(s) of the character(s) changes?... but I'm unsure.

Can anyone take a famous example and count them out?

-

In the picture book I'm working on, I only really have 4 different backgrounds but each spread has something different happening and there's character development and stuff... so 16 (or so) scenes?
#10 - June 25, 2014, 02:49 AM

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In this thread, I think people are literally thinking of the physical scene--what is in the background?  It needs to vary so that the illustrations are not just characters in the same place with different expressions on their faces. 

I don't have any famous books handy where I am right now, but I can think of my own experiences:

I recently got a revision request on a picture book that took place at the child's home, the park, and then home again.  The editor wanted me to rewrite it so that there was more variation in scene, so I had them do errands on the way to the park.

One of my books (A TEACHER FOR BEAR) takes place pretty much in the same classroom so the illustrator used different angles, different areas of the room, a hallway, etc. to add visual interest.

Another of my books VAMPIRINA BALLERINA has scenes in her bedroom, on the floor of her living room, outside the dance studio, a wide shot of the interior of the dance studio, several smaller shots with different backgrounds, back in her bedroom, the bathroom, a double-page spread cutaway of the castle, a nondescript spot illo where they are sewing, the stage with curtains closed, the stage with curtains opened, a shot of the audience, and I forget what else--all for 380 words.
#11 - June 25, 2014, 04:54 AM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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From the illustrator's perspective, outdoor scenes give a lot of leeway for change. However, if most of the scenes are interior, it poses more of a challenge. What Anne Marie said about changes in perspective, zooming in and out and cropping can help. And if more and more characters are introduced, building and building the scenes bigger, it moves the eye and keeps interest. (I'm thinking of PB's like Wolf at the Door).

The book I just illustrated, based on the twelve days of Christmas is written with prepping for Christmas in mind and what a mischievous puppy does in the midst of it. Most of these scenes would happen inside. To keep things interesting, I added another animal character and things that weren't in the text. It helped move the story along. Sequential vignettes in some scenes were used to show how things happened and to help with the counting theme.

The other thread about conversation PB's can come into play. If it's two characters are just having a conversation, it can leave little change from page to page. However, if there are new items or new characters introduced each time, it can work.

Thinking of your text as a movie-short while you're writing can help. The illustrators can embellish with their own extras and even decide if it's a country or city setting.. If it's essential to the story, then the text should state certain things, but a lot of times, the illustrator is given the opportunity for artistic storytelling if the text doesn't sit in the director's chair as much.
 
#12 - June 25, 2014, 06:18 AM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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I think of scenes as "something changes," whether it's the setting, the characters, or the action. When I posted the question (back in 2012!) I was doing critiques for a conference and I was seeing mss. where so little changed visually that it would have been very difficult to turn the story into a 32-page picture book with something different to look at on (at least) each spread.

Looking for 16 to 22 scenes is a good way to make sure you've given the illustrator enough possibilities. Just be aware that scenes are in the eye of the beholder! Sometimes I've been surprised when what I thought of as the first five or six scenes ended up on the first page of the book with a single illustration. Same with page turns--people talk a lot about the importance of page turns, but if you're the writer and not the illustrator, the page turns may not end up where you expect them to.

#13 - June 25, 2014, 06:57 AM
AROUND AMERICA TO WIN THE VOTE
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Now I know I definitely need practice, based on this. So many scenes are inside the characters head sometimes.:/

Sixteen scenes or more, I'll take note.
#14 - June 25, 2014, 09:35 PM
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