1. Noya Desherbanté
    Offline

    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    wishing I was somewhere else...

    Illustrations!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Noya Desherbanté, Nov 16, 2010.

    In your opinion, does fiction benefit from illustrations or does it detract from the experience?? Are illustrations set for a comeback in adult fiction, like they were in Dickens? Would you like to see this or are you glad pictures don't feature much - if at all - in most contemporary books?

    The reason I was going to post this thread was that I was thinking of doing a few illustrations, just some little pretty line drawings, for a book I would like to e-publish... but because I'm not a professional artist I would have thought this would generally be a dreadful idea. I might go to some art students down the hall from me... hmm.
     
  2. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    I don't know sometimes it is nice, sometimes it detracts and removes the imagination.

    I do have illustrations for my stories my seven year old draws my characters for me she does a wonderful japanese anime style art that works really well.
     
  3. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I think it's a bad idea to just tack them on, yes. If you consider the more successful illustrated novels, the text and the drawings are almost always developed alongside one another so that they enrich each other; the illustrations extend our understanding of the text, often by revealing details that could not be delivered in the text without disrupting the narrative.

    So, if you're thinking of illustrations just for the sake of it, I'd avoid it. If you think you can come up with compositions that will aid the text, drawn in a style that suits the text, then why not? Self-publishing means you can be a little more experimental.
     
  4. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Which illustrated novels are you thinking of? All the ones I can think of had the drawings developed after the text. I'm not counting the cases where the illustration is effectively a part of the text, such as a copy of the treasure map.
     
  5. Random
    Offline

    Random New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is one of those things that varies a lot from reader to reader. I generally prefer not seeing any illustrations, since my own imagination will have more room to run wild. The problem I personally have with illustrations is, that they fill in the blanks somewhat permanently. After forming a strong connection between a character and an illustration of that character, it's hard to start imagining them looking like something else.
     
  6. Axo Non Roadkill
    Offline

    Axo Non Roadkill Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Haifa, Israel
    If the illus are well done and don't only illustrate elements but also scenes, they can be a great plus. I don't buy based on picture presence but I never thought pictures are a bad idea. But that's possibly because personally I'm a very visual person and I sometimes do yearn for an illustration to tell me what to be imagining.
     
  7. daisydaisy
    Offline

    daisydaisy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Shropshire, UK
    I think that these days whatever you can do to stand out and be different makes a huge difference. Why not use it as a marketing tool, if your book is published? It could be a 'free' bonus for buying your book.
     
  8. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    Authors like Reif Larson, Jonathan Saffran Foet, and Kurt Vonnegut demonstrate how it can be done successfully in a more contemporary context, but if you go back further, the illustrations for Charles Dicken's novels, which were composed alongside the writing of the text proved immensely popular, and a similar style was adopted by other 19th century authors like Thackeray and Hardy.

    And then, of course, there is children's literature, with the likes of Beatrix Potter developing their own illustrations with their own texts, and authors like C. S. Lewis working very closely with an illustrator (Pauline Baynes) to develop illustrations alongside the actual writing of the work.
     
  9. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Well, maps and charts fall within my exclusion, and I don't recall any illustrations in any of the Vonnegut I've read. I don't see anything in Jonathan Saffran Foer's illustrations that requires them to be integral or suggests that they were developed in tandem with the text.
    Children's fiction is a different matter entirely. The original question was about fiction for adults.
     
  10. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113

    Read next month's Book Club choice Breakfast of Champions for a Vonnegut example.
    It has lots. In a good number of his other works there is the occasional illustration: at the end of Hocus Pocus illustrations are used to rather devastating effect.

    Illustrations, too, in Tristram Shandy, which sit pretty happily there.

    Go for it. If they don't work, rub them out.
     
  11. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,051
    Likes Received:
    5,256
    Location:
    California, US
    I agree that it is simply a matter of how well you pull it off in the end product. I've read adult fiction that includes illustrations. Vonnegut has already been mentioned. There was a fantasy novel called Dragonworld that had a bunch of black-and-white drawings included in it, and I remember it working out pretty well in that instance.

    Mervyn Peake's GORMENGHAST books were illustrated by Peake himself, and to good effect (the seminal work of the man, who the Times of London placed in the top ranks of post-WWII British authors; which is only to show that it worked out well for him).

    I think Hemingway's OLD MAN AND THE SEA was illustrated initially. Not sure if it is currently published that way.

    In any event - yes, you can do it. The rule, like so many other in writing, is that if you're going to do it, just make sure you do it well :D
     
  12. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    for adult fiction, it would detract, imo...

    i don't see any indications that they are...

    no, i wouldn't... and yes, i am...
     
  13. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I assume the maps and charts bit refers to the Reif Larson novel, and also suggests you've never actually read the book. The illustrations are extremely varied and detailed, including not only maps and charts but drawings done by the narrator, annotated images, margin notes, a whole lot of other extra-textual elements. As for Vonnegut, as art said, they are there, so maybe you just haven't read the right books. And I honestly can't imagine that if you've actually read Foer that you could come to that conclusion.

    I'm not gonna pretend that every book needs illustration, but there are more than enough examples of it being done well to justify trying it if its something you think will improve your book.
     
  14. Noya Desherbanté
    Offline

    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    wishing I was somewhere else...
    Oh wow, a lot more positive comments than I was expecting, to be perfectly honest! Very encouraging... :p And it's funny how a word can trigger a maelstrom of ideas... just the word 'experimental' (and 'maps', really) made me think of loads more things I could include instead of just static scenes to, as you said, enrich and add to the text. :D

    Um... would WF.org be a place to post up a couple of links to illustrations I've done for y'all to look at? Or would that really be a more arty forum matter? My train of thought is that book illustrations might be better looked at by readers and writers, rather than people who are just looking for artistic merit and technique...

    But yes, I love this forum, the advice is sooo good and really sparks ideas!! :-D
     

Share This Page