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Dialogue - How to present in manuscript?

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anniebailey7

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Hello!

I have a picture book manuscript where the narrator speaks directly to the reader.  The narrator delivers the main story line, but there are also short side conversations that individual animals in the book have with each other while the main story is going on.  These conversations are mostly one liners that would probably be reflected in a "bubble" next to the character in the illustrations vs. "pig said, duck said, etc.".  Does that make sense? 

I'm not sure how to reflect these side conversations in the manuscript.  I don't want "Duck said" in the manuscript, but I need to have a way to show who is talking.  Any ideas? 

Thanks so much!
#1 - January 25, 2013, 09:06 AM

Maybe a brief illustration note, saying something like this?

(Pig is shown yelling "Hey!")

#2 - January 25, 2013, 09:24 AM

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I'm with Jaina - include it as an illustration note, or maybe in parentheses to indicate it's apart from the main dialog. You could also try to explain it in a cover letter as well. Good luck!
#3 - January 25, 2013, 04:27 PM

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Hmm... I don't write PB's but an editor told me for my manuscript she was critting that illustrator notes are a big no no. Any PB writers who can join in on this?
#4 - January 25, 2013, 05:19 PM
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Needless illustrator notes ARE a big no-no, but needed illustrator notes are fine, if you keep them brief.

In other words, if you need to say (James falls down) in order to the story to be understood, you should be able to do so, without getting all worried that your ms. will be rejected because you made a note.

If you write a bunch of things that aren't vital to the story, trying to do the illustrator's job for them, then yes--you will look like an amateur.
#5 - January 25, 2013, 05:23 PM

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So these conversations would be in conversation bubbles like in graphic novels or The Magic School Bus, yes? You might consider putting those comments in parenthesis:  (Pig says "Yikes! Did he just say bacon?").   Then in your cover letter you could make a very brief explanation that you see the lines in parenthesis as conversation bubbles separate from the story text.   

This is not telling the illustrator or editor what to do. It is simply sharing your concept for the book. If the editor likes the book but has a different vision, they will tell you so.
                   
#6 - January 25, 2013, 09:21 PM
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anniebailey7

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Yes, Bobi.  That's exactly what I'm thinking.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.  I'll try the parentheses for the manuscript and see how it looks.
#7 - January 28, 2013, 07:54 AM

I stopped writing picture books a long time ago. But the other day, when I gave my just finished manuscript to scan, she said I shouldn't worry so much about the dialogue. The tone would be picked up in the previous paragraph.
She also said that no matter how much description you use of characters, children will always build their profiles of how they interpret what the character should look like. Regardless of whether they see them in a physical form.
Does that make sense to anyone else? At the time she said it, she was looking at my manuscript and it seemed to fit in with my work.
#8 - January 28, 2013, 08:25 AM

I think that simplifies the problem, too, Bobi. I was thinking along the same lines and mentioning that the dialogue in parentheses would be in the 'bubbles' like this:

(Pig says) "Yikes! Did he just say bacon?"

When I went to Chautauqua, I attended a class taught by Candace Fleming and she use "Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!" to teach the class about PB's. Someone asked if the words that ended up apart from the text and in the illustrations had been separated when she submitted the book and she said, "No. I wrote it as part of the text." You can look inside this book on Amazon to see what she means.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/az88ee3

Hope that helps!





#9 - January 28, 2013, 05:11 PM

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Thanks for sharing this link, Donna. Always good to have published examples!

When I saw the few pages you can view, I suddenly realized I have this very book in my library collection. I read it to my K-2 classes last sprint and they love the escalation of action.
#10 - January 28, 2013, 09:22 PM
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 09:26 PM by Bobi Martin »
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anniebailey7

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I have "Muncha!  Muncha!  Muncha!" so I"ll take a look.  Thanks Donna! 

Annie
#11 - January 29, 2013, 12:46 PM

LaneFredrickson

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Hi,
If you take a look at Laura Murray's The Gingerbread Man: Loose in the school, you can see that she has some dialog tagged and other dialog not tagged.  We are in the same critique group and I had worried that the inconsistency would be a problem, but it wasn't, her editor worked it out.  The illustrator merely used bubble boxes for whatever wasn't tagged.  I tag all my dialog just because I like it that way, but Laura chose not to.  If an editor loves your story, they'll work it out.

good luck,
Lane
#12 - January 29, 2013, 11:04 PM

anniebailey7

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Thanks for the suggestion Lane.  On the dialogue that wasn't tagged, how did she show it in the manuscript?  Did she use parentheses?
#13 - February 01, 2013, 10:55 AM

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By tagged, I think she means a tag line.

"I'm leaving!" Vanessa yelled.  tagged
Like I care.                                not tagged

Lane--do correct if I'm wrong.
#14 - February 01, 2013, 08:31 PM
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