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What illustrative notes should I include?

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Tea Drinker Extraordinaire
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My PB text has a series of actions and reactions. It doesn't really matter what the reactions are (apart from they should be humorous) and I'd be happy to let the illustrator decide. But I'm not sure whether I need to include illustrative notes or not.

Let me demonstrate with an example, made-up for this purpose. Hmm....off the top of my head. :)

On Monday, the dancing broccoli jived. (She knocks over a lamp.)
On Tuesday, the dancing broccoli tangoed. (She trips over and smashes into the TV.)
On Wednesday, the dancing broccoli did the twist. (She steps on the dancing pea.)
Etc.*

Let's assume that whenever the dancing broccoli dances, she breaks something.

Now, I could write in illustrative notes specifically what happens each turn as above, but if it's not that important exactly what happens then I feel I shouldn't.

So could I write one note at the top along the lines of "The dancing broccoli breaks something different each time she dances"?

Or, does that just make me look lazy, like I couldn't be bothered to say what happens?

Er...it's very difficult to explain without talking about my particular story. Any advice or blank stares appreciated.

*Can't believe I missed "The dancing broccoli did the mashed potato". :)

 :broccoli :broccoli :broccoli
#1 - November 03, 2012, 08:15 AM

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So could I write one note at the top along the lines of "The dancing broccoli breaks something different each time she dances"?

This is what I'd do as an author, and would like as an illustrator. The only time I do more is if I'm illustrating the book and the scene is already drawn, but in that case, I include a dummy so they can see it too.
#2 - November 03, 2012, 09:18 AM
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Brilliant - thanks Stephanie! I'll do that.  :yup
#3 - November 03, 2012, 12:13 PM

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You should give the illustrator as much room as possible to tell his/her half of the story. A specific art note seems too constraining whereas the vague note allows the illustrator's imagination/ideas to come into play.
#4 - November 04, 2012, 05:06 AM
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You should give the illustrator as much room as possible to tell his/her half of the story. A specific art note seems too constraining whereas the vague note allows the illustrator's imagination/ideas to come into play.
Yes, that's exactly what I felt - that my notes were too constraining. Thanks Tammi!
#5 - November 04, 2012, 01:18 PM

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Great call...speaking from experience, you want the illustrator to feel as though he/she is working with you...not for you. That doesn't mean that you can't collaborate so that you are both happy with the finished product, it simply means the illustrator needs to be as involved as you. I'd also note that it is important to find an illustrator who is passionate about your project but as I understand it in the PB industry that is up to the publisher.

Good luck!
#6 - November 04, 2012, 07:46 PM
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Reading through replies, it sounds as if others have already answered what I was going to. :-)

Speaking as an illustrator:

If a publisher approached me with a mss that included very detailed art notes, I would be more likely to say no (if I was in the position where I felt I could choose) because the project wouldn't seem nearly as appealing as a project in which I felt I had leeway to interpret and add my own creative voice.

The mss that Simon & Schuster sent me for I'M BORED had very very few art notes.

Ditto for the one they just sent me. In fact, I was told that the author purposely left lots of room for me to play around with, based on what that person saw what I did in I'M BORED. Yay! :-)

Before I learned more about the picture book creation process, I used to think that the illustrator just drew what the author wrote in the story. I also didn't understand why some editors hate mss with art notes.

Now I realize that picture books are truly a creative collaboration of a number of individuals: author, illustrator, editor and art director. The challenge for most authors (including me, before I started illustrating): learning to trust the rest of the team enough to be willing to let go, and to be open to the final product possibly not matching one's initial visition exactly.

There are always exceptions, of course. I've heard from some editors who prefer lots of art notes. But the majority seem to prefer no art notes unless it's absolutely necessary (e.g. what's happening in the art is the opposite of what the text says, etc.).

Debbie

#7 - December 25, 2012, 01:33 PM
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I'd just add the one line you suggested -
  "The dancing broccoli breaks something different each time she dances"
Or, just explain that in the letter to the editor when you pitch your story.  I know I am personally trying to cut down on my illustrator notes, but sometimes they feel necessary. Funny, I just wrote a broccoli story, too! And to think I thought that was original! Though my broccoli does not dance. Good luck with this.
#8 - December 25, 2012, 02:14 PM
Carol Gordon Ekster
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Just seen these latest replies, thank you both. :)

Isn't that always the way, Cekster? You think there's never been a picture book/novel/film about broccoli or space elephants on a quest to find intergalactic sticky buns and then two come along at once. :D
#9 - January 05, 2013, 11:42 PM

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