1. charliestars
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    charliestars New Member

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    Advice needed with regards to pictures in a fictional novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by charliestars, Jun 4, 2014.

    Hi Everyone

    Could somebody please be so kind as to advise me on the rules as far as using pictures in a fiction novel.

    I have started writing a story and have arrived at a rather difficult part. Needless to say this is my first attempt at writing a book of any sort.

    I have these ancient ruins and their precise dimensions viewed from different angles that I need to inject into my story. Kind of like the building plans to a home. How does one in this instance inject that part into the story. Could I just put the plans of the ruins as a picture with its dimensions in the story and write from a 3rd person perspective for example that "Mr X laid these plans on the table" ?

    What are the rules for inserting pictures in a fiction novel ? Bearing in mind it is not a comic nor is it a children's book.

    Any help here would really be appreciated
    Kind Regards
    Edwin
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all novels are by definition, 'fiction'... so don't use both words when querying agents/publishers, or you'll be branding yourself a clueless amateur...

    if you'll be submitting to agents and traditional [= paying'] publishing houses, do not insert any artwork into the ms, just submit the text... if/when interest is shown in the ms, then you can ask if they'd be interested in seeing your art...

    illustrations such as you've mentioned are usually placed at the front of the book, so the reader can refer back to them... they most likely wouldn't be inserted into the text, so you don't need to mention them in the story itself, other than how you would normally do so as part of the plot...
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you mean by "rules"? If you think pictures will help the reader (and not just be a roundabout way to infodump), include them. Now, if you're going to try for trade publishing, the publisher will more than likely want to revisit that, and they may be dumped, or re-done by a professional artist, or...

    If you want formatting, can't help you there.

    And btw, it's just "novel", not "fiction novel".
     
  4. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    Well, it's hard to find things that can't be described by words.

    You should just describe it as best you can and attempt to invoke the general feeling, and then -- like others said -- put it at the front or end of the book for reference.

    It wouldn't be wise to put it in the middle.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Not knowing your story, I can't say for certain but my gut is telling me that these ruins and their precise dimensions are extremely interesting to you (perhaps they are at the heart of why you wanted to write the story in the first place), but that doesn't mean that the reader needs to know them. There are lots of details we conjure up about whatever world we decide to use as a setting, but the vast majority of that is stuff that we need to know but the reader doesn't. For example, my current project is a historical novel, and in researching for it I read about 30 books - histories, letter collections, even novels and poetry - plus numerous web sites. I filled two 5-subject college-ruled notebooks with my notes. Only the tiniest fraction of that made it into my story, but it all stands as background.

    Even if your story is specifically about the ruins, it doesn't mean the reader needs to see them. As a matter of fact, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which you would want the reader to see them. As @sylvertech said above, you can always describe them. Moreover, you can not describe them, leaving the details to the reader's imagination (a common error among new writers is to over-describe every detail, spoonfeeding the reader). Tom Clancy incessantly described various forms of military hardware, as well as the processes for building a nuclear bomb (The Sum of All Fears) and cultivating a deadly, prolific virus (Executive Orders). Not once did he include a photo or drawing.

    My advice is to write it assuming the drawing will not be needed.

    Best of luck.
     
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  6. charliestars
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    charliestars New Member

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    Thank you everyone for taking the time to answer my questions. All your responses have been a great help, thank you

    Kind Regards
    Edwin
     
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  7. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I remember older books from the 60-80s, mainly ffantasy, had pictures here and there of the current scene. You'd see the elves and their cities, dragons stading proudly in front of the protagonists...

    What happened to those?
    I like them as the art is generally very well done but modern books just don't have them anyore. Did it become unpopular? Cost inefective? Or are the considered a hinderance to the imagination?

    My, how the times changed in such a short time.
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum.

    Some books include maps. This sounds like a building plan that could be presented in a similar way as a map. Tolkien put maps of Middle Earth in his books. Here's one from a first edition of The Hobbit.
    [​IMG]

    But you don't need to. Readers usually have little trouble imagining such items like a diagram spread out on the table by a character.

    Some people use maps to keeps worlds straight in their writing but don't include them in the book. I drew a map to help me visualize a canyon and river valley. Some of the characters are hiking down river and the protagonist goes up over a ridge to get ahead of them. I had to draw it out to be sure I got the description right.
     
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  9. Chaos Inc.
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    Chaos Inc. Active Member

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    Beat me to it again Ginger! I was thinking Tolkien as an example too.

    I'll add this, however, there are no rules in art. For example; there's nothing stopping a writer from having a detailed illustration that contains a hidden clue towards figuring out a mystery within your own story.
     
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  10. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to agree with @EdFromNY. Approaching this from the standpoint of a reader, nitty-gritty details typically go in one ear and right out the other. That's because, in almost every case, those details aren't as important as you might think. Giving me the exact dimensions of a room is not going to make me picture it better. Consider the POV of the character involved when he/she enters that room. What does the character notice? What does the character see, smell, hear, feel? All that matters much more than an objective description of a room from the author.

    That's because stories thrive on tension and uncertainty--we experience the story/scene through the POV character, complete with her/his biases and misconceptions. We don't want an objective summary of what the world is, we want a biased opinion of how the character views the world. That's because I the reader want to experience the scene, not read about it in a manual/report/bulletin/etc. There's no tension in an objective summary. But there is a ton of tension in a room of unknown size because there's not enough light to see how far that tunnel goes. Or what could be lurking in it.

    The reader's imagination is the best tool you have to create suspense, uncertainty, and tension. Don't take away my (and the characters') misconceptions and lack of knowledge with objective description that tells me what is. Limit my knowledge to the character's knowledge. Let me discover the world with your character--let me be surprised, frightened, relieved, etc. Make me experience those emotions.
     
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