Learning from NaNo, Round 2: Written and Visual

One of the interesting things about trying to hybridize novel and graphic novel for my NaNo/the Generic Villain project has been determining what to render in words and what to render in pictures. I’d thought originally that most of my content would be writing, like on the blog; certainly, in the prologue, I ignored illustrations entirely and focused on descriptions for everything, up until the last part of the battle in said prologue, which I rendered as pictures because my descriptions seemed clunky and inaccurate. But as the story continued, more and more of it insisted on being rendered as comic panels and illustrations.

So what have I been finding necessary to do as pictures?

With several notable exceptions, important characters’ introductions have pretty much demanded full illustrations. Amusingly, all three of the notable exceptions have been my principle characters, namely GV and Elite Minions 25 and 47; for some reason, there’s never really been good reason to give them their own splash panels. I still need to come up with descriptions, mind; the [Insert picture] notes I leave myself take up as much room as the text would have, if not more. I like being absolutely sure I know what to draw. The rule has mostly been that if they manage dramatic entrances, either directly or because their appearance matters, they get splash panels; otherwise, I just try to find an excuse to provide a picture as soon as possible. This isn’t just the case for people, either; a lot of places get the same treatment from me.

The next largest source of pictures—and the one that gives me the most reason for concern—is the action scenes. You’d think that with all the gaming I’d done, I’d be more comfortable writing scenes that involve intense physical action and/or splashy energy effects; I can still write enough of them to know what the picture’s going to look like. But if I can just sum it up in a few pictures, assuming I get the hang of putting all the limbs in the right places, the use of illustrations for events like these should let me speed up pacing rather than bogging people down in adjectives or trying to figure out how precisely to describe the actions being performed.

Then there are montages, usually involving traveling over significant spaces: I find those a lot more fun to plan as drawings than to summarize in words. One of my greatest stumbling blocks to posting this thing is that I’ve decided I’m not uploading any of it until I finish work on the first major travel montage, a long climb down a mountain, done over the course of three or four pages of scenery with figures doing things here and there.

The short version, I think, is that the pictures are a pacing tool, to cover for more words than my readers might want to deal with in places where said words might interfere with the sense of pacing and movement.

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