1. Florent150
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    Florent150 Member

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    using diagrams/charts as part of a story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Florent150, Jan 18, 2011.

    From what I've heard, manuscripts are strictly text with no fancy fonts or artwork etc.

    What about the use of diagrams, charts or text/info in that kind of sectioned off, image-based style? The best example I can think of is Jurassic Park and the Lost World; in both of which Michael Crichton extensively uses diagrams, charts and snippets from computer screens to show information and give the book more of a sciency feel. Not to mention the iterations at the start of each chapter with the use of dragon curves. Would he have submitted all this in a manuscript to his editor/an editor, and is that possible for somebody who's not yet published on anything?

    I want to do a similar thing, with the use of visual snippets from computer screens and what not to show information or text. Have any of you done this?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you are an established, marketable author, you may have more latitude, but publishers generally do not accept illustrations from the author. Illustrators are contracted by the publisher after the manuscript is accepted.
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Make sure it's necessary and relevant to the story. If your character is looking at a TPS report, and the most authentic way to deliver that information is to let the reader also look at it, then why not.

    It's a balancing act, though. As with direct thoughts, it's often more elegant to simply represent those thoughts instead of giving them directly (lest our prose be filled with 'sure am hungry' and 'I wonder if hippos fart' sort of inane nonsense people may idly think about. Don't add in a chart because you think it's cool or neat, or because you spent 4 hours designing it and don't want your efforts wasted, only add stuff in that is furthering and supporting the story.

    You know, is it better to show the chart, or to let the character interpret it for us with "he could see how sales had risen since 2003, but..." sort of thing. I don't know, can't answer that for you.

    One thing I'll mention is I've heard from several sources that they hate when things the characters are seeing/reading aren't depicted, whether directly or indirectly. For instance, the character comes home and reads a two-page letter from the spouse who is now missing, and the prose reads something like 'it was an emotionally charged letter saying good bye.' This is usually a cop-out, avoiding writing something that's tough to write, and most agents/editors I imagine want the letter addressed more directly. Whether that means it has to be depicted in handwriting is up to you, just like whether to have the character interpret a chart or have the chart directly for reader-interpretation. I'd lean, either way, toward getting a character interpretation, reaction and explanation, though, to make sure the message is clear.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what cog said!

    submit text only... if/when you're offered a publishing contract, then is the time to ask if your graphics can be included in the book...
     
  5. UberNoodle
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    UberNoodle Senior Member

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    I read a great Japanese detective novel in which there were regular "chapters" showing the MC's note book and folder of clues and evidence. Pretty cool, but at the time, I wondered just how expensive it was for the publisher to do it. So yeah, you'd need some swing, or at least compromising photos of the publisher's CEO.
     
  6. Florent150
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    Florent150 Member

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    What if the graphic is fundamental to the story, like, the characters are discussing the data shown in the graphs (which the reader needs to see in order for it to make sense). This is what happens in Jurassic Park most of the time.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in which case, you simply indicate with a bracketed note that a map or whatever is to be inserted there... however, for most adult novels, necessary maps and such are put up front, before the text begins, not inserted within it...
     

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