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Formatting question for PB with NF elements

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I hope this is the right place to post this and I hope this makes sense. I'm not exactly sure how to format this in my manuscript.

The fictional part of this story is one character talking to another. But on each page I plan on having a non-fiction blurb or side bar. What is the correct way to format this?

For example (and not my real story, just an example to show what I'm doing):

Tree talking to bird:

"OK Robin, it's time to scat. I don't like Robins building nests in my tree!"

Sidebar: Robins are birds that are common all over North America. It is the state bird for XYZ states.

(Next page:)
"Blue Jay, you're not my favorite bird either. Can you land somewhere else?"

Side bar: Blue Jays are fairly large birds that live on the eastern half of the United States.

My two questions are:
Do I format it like I have, with the dialogue as the storyline, then use the word "Sidebar" and insert my factual information on each page?

How do I do word count for this? The fictional part of the story will probably be about 200 words. The non-fiction element will add a few hundred more. Do I separate these word counts, or add them together? I guess this is similar to the Magic School Bus books - fictional storyline with facts sprinkled in.

Thanks for any help!



#1 - July 17, 2013, 06:15 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, Spring 2021)

I do creative nonfiction but haven't done this formatting before. Just an idea, but I would probaby put a notation at the top explainin the formatting for each spread and then indent the facts so that an editor can read the fiction story straight down the page (which should be able to stand alone, in my opinion).  Good luck with this. It reminds me of the series that goes along with one off my favorite books ever, D is for Drinking Gourd by Nancy Sanders and E.B. Lewis.
#2 - July 17, 2013, 08:20 AM

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Yes, it is very similar to the alphabet series you're referring to, but not an actual alphabet book! And yes, the fiction story, though short, will stand on it's own. Thanks for your reply!
#3 - July 17, 2013, 08:24 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, Spring 2021)

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I'd write the story first, have a word-count/pagination
Then a second section called Sidebars, again with word-count/pagination.

Lots of magazines will also have little tidbits and I never write the sidebar into the main manuscript because it disrupts the narrative flow. The editor always knows where to put the sidebar. I don't even put numbers or asterisks.

Good luck,
Vijaya
#4 - July 17, 2013, 08:40 AM
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Usually I just insert the sidebars into the text headed by the word: SIDEBAR and then at the end I put END SIDEBAR. But Vijaya is right--it can be very disruptive. Once I changed the color of the sidebar text slightly (but that was a ms. I mailed in). Another time I used italics for the sidebar. I'm sure putting it at the back works too. Do the word count the way Vijaya suggests.
#5 - July 17, 2013, 09:32 AM
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Thanks for starting this interesting thread. I'm working on a similar text - except that the fictional part is written in rhyming couplets.  Since I don't want to disrupt the flow of that, I was thinking of using endnotes to show the sidebar material.  Is that an okay sounding strategy or should I stick to sidebars that are over a couple of tabs from the main text?
#6 - July 17, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Laura,

Either way is acceptable. If I were in your situation, I might put the NF elements at the end.

Jody
#7 - July 18, 2013, 05:18 AM
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I've actually put the sidebars in boxes, single-spaced, with [sidebar] at the top. (Within the text, to show each sidebar's placement.) I think anything's fine as long as it helps the editor clearly visualize what you have in mind.
#8 - July 18, 2013, 07:13 AM
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I tend to agree with Vijaya and Jody. I would not want to interrupt the flow of the story - especially if it's rhyming. As Mara said, just make it clear everything you've included with your submission.
#9 - July 18, 2013, 07:51 AM

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Thanks everyone for chiming in! I think I'll try it both ways, within the document as sidebars or at the end and see what my critique group thinks. My main concern is that the text won't make much sense without the sidebars as the text uses a play on words which the sidebars explain. . . so I would need a very clear explanation in a cover letter if I put the sidebars at the end. (But disrupting the flow of the story is also a valid concern.)

Love these boards!
#10 - July 18, 2013, 10:24 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, Spring 2021)

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Hi dkshumaker,
You might want to contact Melissa Stewart. In her new nonfiction title NO MONKEYS, NO CHOCOLATE she talks about how the non-fiction is the main part but she has two bookworms that given running commentary on the side. Sort of the reverse of yours.
Here is the link to her new book: http://www.melissa-stewart.com/timeline/10yr_timeline.html
And contact info: http://www.melissa-stewart.com/contact/contact.html
#11 - July 18, 2013, 10:57 AM
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If the sidebars are needed as part of the story, then yes, I agree, to put them within the main part of the manuscript, perhaps in italics or as someone else said, a different color. Something to make the demarcation between the story and the sidebars.

And thanks for that link to "No Monkeys, No Chocolate." What a fun page!

Donna

#12 - July 18, 2013, 11:30 AM

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Hi everyone,

When I took a nonfiction writing course with Anastasia Suen, she recommended putting the layered elements within the text itself, setting them off with [Sidebar] and [End Sidebar] or something similar.

I took a workshop with Melissa Stewart about a year ago, and she used font size and spacing to set off the sidebars within the text. The first layer of text was 14 point. The second layer (the sidebar) was 12-point and the lines were spaced 1 and a half between lines. She also said it was acceptable to label the secondary text. She said it was critical that editors understand your vision when they read the MS.

I hope that helps!

Kirsten Larson
Children's Science Writer
http://creatingcuriouskids.wordpress.com
#13 - July 18, 2013, 01:51 PM
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Thanks Kirsten,
I think what you learned at Melissa Stewart's workshop is exactly what I will do. So many great suggestions!!!!
#14 - July 18, 2013, 06:28 PM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, Spring 2021)

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