SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Word limit in Speech Bubble for PB

Discussion started on

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region florida
It's the first time I've tried to post on the Blueboard! How can that be? I'm wondering what you think the limit to number of words in a speech bubble should be. I'm working on a story that I hope will have both speech bubbles and narrative. Thanks all.
#1 - February 20, 2020, 09:54 AM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ksmo
Hi Marsha,

I've mostly seen just a few words or a couple of short sentences in speech bubbles. But I can imagine if a character goes on a rant, there could be many more words. Have you studied recently-released books that use speech bubbles? Dev Petty's, for instance, or Tammi Sauer's?
#2 - February 20, 2020, 11:12 AM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, BUSY BUS series, EMERGENCY KITTENS, and more!
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region florida
Thank you, Jody. I'll be doing more research and will definitely take a look at Dev's and Tammi's.
#3 - February 20, 2020, 11:48 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
With the rise in graphic works, I doubt there is a limit as long as the page works as a whole.
#4 - February 20, 2020, 06:03 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Roving Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
Also check out Carter Goodrich's PB's "Mr Bud wears the cone", "Meet Zorro" and "Zorro gets an outfit", using narrative and speech. I feel you want to keep the total PB word count in mind, so cut out page narrative when the speech is longer, for example.
#5 - February 21, 2020, 02:48 AM
"Penelope and the Humongous Burp"
"Penelope and the Monsters"
"Penelope and the Preposterous Birthday Party"

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region florida
It's great to see you here, Marsha!

You already have great advice...mentor texts should be a huge help. You could also create a dummy with the text and speech bubbles and see how much room they leave for illustrations.

Good luck! I can't wait to hear more about this when you can share. :)
#6 - February 21, 2020, 02:53 AM

Illustrator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ksmo
Usually the max would be a couple sentences, maybe three if they're short.  But what determines that is not really some arbitrary word count limit.  It's more about how much will fit in the bubble while still being easy to read and avoids turning the bubble into a big block of text.  (Unless that's the gag, of course.)  If it starts to look like a paragraph, that's usually too much.  Keep speech bubble dialog short and simple.  If you must say a lot, try breaking it up into multiple connected bubbles, or say it over multiple panels.  And don't let it overwhelm the illustration.  It should be mostly picture, not mostly words. 

When using a comic book style for illustrations (illustrations with speech bubbles) you're still MOSTLY using the pictures to tell the story, with just a little help from the dialog in the bubbles.  If you do it right, you shouldn't NEED too many words in the bubbles because the illustrations themselves will show most of what you're trying to say. 

On another point, one really fun thing you can do once you've moved to comic style of illustrations is to show comic book sound and motion effects.  BANG!  Crack!  WHOOSH!!!!  GuRgLe... 

Have fun! 
#7 - February 23, 2020, 06:43 PM
Karen B. Jones

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
Okay, sort of a thread steal and it's five years old, but I found https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=eng_bookpubpaper very interesting (as a non-illustrator) when thinking about word bubbles.
#8 - February 24, 2020, 04:45 AM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.