One of the things I’m asked most often at conferences is whether a picture book author should include illustration notes in a manuscript. This seems to really vex some people. The problem with illustration notes is if we say it’s ok to use them, then people tend to abuse them, including levels of detail that are completely irrelevant to the story and bind the illustrator’s hand (and creativity). So here are some answers for you.
Q: Should I include illustration notes in my manuscript?
Q: But what if I need to make something clear that the text isn’t showing?
A: If there is no other way to know, and it’s vital to the story, then include some stage directions. You know, like in a script. But you have to promise it’s essential.
Q: And what if I want the illustrator to know my character has curly hair?
A: Your character does not have curly hair unless the illustrator decides she does. Your character might end up being an elephant. Deal.
Q: But she lives in a red house and that matters because her favorite color is red.
A: Are you sure it’s that important? You’re wrong. It’s not.
Q: But what if
A: We’re done. [exit stage left]
Love this one, Heather. It’s a question that comes up very often. I’m happy I can now refer PB writers to your blog.
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Dripes! (smacks forehead) … I sent you a MS with notes. All the more reason why this blog is so useful for us aspiring authors! Thanks😊
That was funny and to the point! Thanks!
Hahaha. I’m an illustrator and I second this completely!
Love it, Heather! Thanks. 😉
Well, thanks for taking the pressure off…I’m really really fine about this.
I like collaboration so the more ideas the merrier. At this stage anyway.
I couldn’t believe this was true when I first heard [recently]…However upon editing my story minus those bits, I was equally shocked to see that it WAS the same story without those [oh so important] details!