Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Writing World Wednesday: Why Novels Don't Have Pictures

Currently reading: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. (By the way, the name Ransom is kind of cool. Is it a pseudonym? I wouldn't be surprised.)

I am 95 pages into this book, and I am truly enjoying it. I spied quite a few reviews where people were displeased with the book due to the misleading cover and summary. Well, I raise you this question: don't all readers know better than to trust the cover? Either way, I'm enjoying it for its story, not because of what its eerie cover promises.

Now, covers mean pictures; and pictures raise another question: If we have a picture, why do we need to describe anything? Description is a crucial element for any writer to use and configure into their writing to give readers the same image that the writer has in mind. This book has photographs interlaced throughout the entire story, and instead of being enraptured by them, they're annoying.

They are wasting ink. Riggs specifically describes exactly what is on the picture before you see it. Let me give you an example:

"He loved guns so much that sometimes he even slept with them. My dad had an old snapshot to prove it: Grandpa Portman napping with a pistol in hand." (Page 27)

 Page 28 is a photograph of a man sleeping with a pistol in his hand.

...Why did we need the photograph when it was specifically explained? It takes away from the writing and distracts us from the story for a moment to examine the photograph. It's unnecessary. Novels are all about the wordsmithery, not the photography like younger books.

It could be just me. Yet I just feel as though this is the possible #1 reason novels do not have pictures woven into the text: unnecessary distraction. Your opinions and thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. I think illustrations in a novel can be wonderful, if done well -- if they're used to beautifully bring pieces of the story to life in a way that compliments the words. Generic images, on the other hand, or pictures that are nothing more than a repetition of what's been said (as in your Grandpa with pistol example) do indeed seem like a waste. Even worse would be pictures that *contradict* the words. Don't describe one thing and then show another; it's bad enough when that happens with the cover art -- don't let it spread throughout the book, too!