(No) more illustrations in stories?

Should illustrations such as drawings or photographs (not) be allowed?

I’d like to put this question to you because I’m fairly new here and just setting up my first series by Leonardo
The start of a series seldom is the most exciting part, but some air could be blown into it with pictures. I tried to do that in the first two chapters.
It would be rather pretentious of me to enter a site and jettisoning existing standards just like that. Therefor, I put this question to you.

Some context: I have a background as a (by times kinky) photographer. My art needs no translation. I also write, sometimes in an erotic way. But that is in my native language with a translation to English, as good as I can. By definition, a language has more limitations as a means of communication than a photograph.

Still, photos can gain power with a story attached. Conversely, can a story gain power with a photo attached?
Like in the first chapters of my series. Here they mainly have a function in the layout. To blow some air between the words. Perhaps also giving a swing to the fantasy of the reader by offering visual impulses.

This topic has already been discussed here. That was almost three years ago.The response then was rather dismissive: a good story doesn’t need illustrations, but it is up to @Martin. That seems a bit outdated, now that the stronghold of ‘text-only’, the French newspaper Le Monde, abandoned its ban on illustrations several decades ago.

Layout can be part of the accessibility of a text and therefor of its quality. By now, Internet blogs and stories without visual layout elements are a rarity.

But that doesn’t mean GSS should go with every flow. If it is the character of good kinky story that it is self-supporting, I can sympathize with that. I also empathize that it could create an unwanted barrier for straight forward text-writers, if layout elements in stories become commonplace.

I am very interested in your view and I will adhere to a general opinion.

(This is intended as a follow-up of the discussion in the post: ‘No more pictures in stories’ by @firesix in January 2019.)

Caption stories, which we are all familiar with from Tumblr are totally a thing. I think most people like them. You find a hot photo that inspires your imagination and write a fairly short, maybe kinky story around it. The minimum word limit for stories in this site is quite permissive and longer caption style stories fit and I think they are quite nice. In fact, one of my favorite stories on this website is essentially a longish caption story, Meat Lover by @Bramurai 'Meat Lover' by Bramurai - Gay Spiral Stories

Now what about photos in longer, more character driven stories or even a slow-burn epic that unfolds over multiple chapters?

In my humble opinion, photos detract from those stories. With plenty of space and many words to present your characters, photos are a bit of a crutch. What you are doing with the photo is something that you should have done with your writing.

In a very short story, the photo is saving words. In a longer story the author doesn’t need to save words, so what is the purpose of the photo? Is it covering for the writer’s inability to capture the characters in words?

Sometimes I think authors describe their characters too much as it is. By leaving some room for the imagination, readers will fill in the traits they want to see in the characters. If you remove all ability for the reader to do that, you can actually reduce the enjoyment of your reader. This matters more in longer stories, where you are trying to get the reader attached to your characters. By selecting a photo - you completely remove all hope of the reader filling in any details. Hope you picked a really hot photo in this case, because it’s make or break if you decide to do that.

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I think it depends upon the story and the author as to whether or not an illustration would help their prose.

It is valid to say that the reader’s imagination can fill in a scene in ways that the writer could never hope to adequately express. I mean, even when I’m writing out a sex scene, part of me is assuming that there will be some visualization by the reader. You write a story by painting in broad strokes with some details. However you know that, in the end, the reader has to fill in some of the details too.

That said, sometimes a story is helped by or even made hotter by illustrations. Of course it also depends upon how good the illustrations are. I mean Priapus and Herodotus , can anybody deny their images enhance a tale? I’ve said before that I like the stories by Kyle Cicero. Still, when he works with the illustrator Herodotus… Well what can I say but wow. :slight_smile:

So I guess I’m saying, if readers don’t like stories with illustrations, they can skip their stories or just the illustrations. I don’t think there can be a hard and fast rule on using or not using them.

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Thanks for the comprehensive reply Amul, I understand your arguments, and I read the story you referred to. I assume you have seen mine and consider its illustrations rather as a distraction. They are for sure not intended to completely remove all hope of the reader to fill in his own details. The subject does not stir much in the community, same as in 2019. To resume the idea in a few words: substance over form. Words are central and illustrations only have a value when they save words, if I summarize the approach correctly. This is a site of stories and that is about words.
It is good for me to have that clear and I understand it. I will retract my story -that causes technical problems- anyhow.

Thank you for your reply Chris. I read the examples that you mention and the illustrations that were used there. I can only say: wow. On second thoughts I agree that drawings fit better with linger written text than most photographs.

@amul captures my point of view. If you read the previous thread you’ll know I was a contributor. I tend to be highly sensitive to the idiomatic qualities of narrative: the way you tell a story in words is different from how you tell it in music, is different from how you tell it in motion picture film or video, and it’s different from the way you tell it in photography. And it’s still different if you intend to make an illustrated prose story.

You mention that images can enhance a story. What you totally ignore is how images can detract from a story. This is something you should think about. Of most of the stories here, I’ve found that the pictures are not at all what I would imagine. (True confession: I pretty much detest porn because the guys rarely embody my sense of “sexy.” When I see one of those blond-hair buff guys, all I can think of is the monetary transactions needed to produce images that will manipulate guys into jerking off.) Or sometimes the images are too sexy, too porn-model-like so that if you’re writing about an average guy, the image will create a disconnect.

What about readers of African or Asian ancestry? Do you think they visualize characters as those caucasian blonde-haired buff guys? In these days of heightened sensitivity to multiple races, aren’t you excluding people from engaging with your story if your pictures depict only certain types of men?

One caveat. One of the guys who did a comic version of @absman420 's story Pollination did a nice job. It was good and hot because he didn’t follow the story slavishly but recognized that his comic version was an entirely different medium. The visual version was terrible for trying to show the mental perambulations going through Mike Milano’s mind, but it was good in other ways, elaborating on things that @absman420 barely touched up or didn’t mention at all.

You sound like your foundation is photography. So I suggest you do something like a Tumblr story but here on GSS: have it primarily told through images and what can’t be expressed visually you can put in writing. Maybe talk to @Martin to see if there’s flexibility in the design that could accomodate a story told primarily in images.

Thank you @nycboot for reacting.
Let me assure you that I read the previous thread or I would not have linked to it. Sometimes however over a period of three years, there is an evolution of thought. But following your reference to your previous reaction, I accept that this is not the case.
Nevertheless, visual artists, perhaps even photographers, have capabilities that transcend showing “caucasian blonde-haired buff guys” and porno. You mention one example, but more as the exception that confirms the rule than as an incentive to further develop this option.
It is valuable that there is a gay kinky site where the power of words is all-pervading and defended. In these matters, the direction where you wish to look defines what you see. And with that in mind, I can completely follow your observations. As good as I accept the character of this site.
Indeed I talked to @Martin as I said before. He rules over a site of great value that I will not interfere with any more. Without guarantee that perhaps over three years someone else might rise and pose the same question again.

Thank you @nycboot – there have been two comic book adaptations of POLLINATION and I’ll touch on both. To be fair, I agree with you a hundred percent that one medium is not another – and though I have used pics as visual inspiration to write, I usually don’t include them in the story. I’ll put them up in the comment threads or here in the Forum in my absman blabs thread, but like you, I think they’re distracting embedded in a story. (I usually just skip them until I’m done reading, then look.)

As someone who has adapted many literary works to the stage, I have come to respect that one medium doesn’t equal another. Telling a story on stage is different from the page is different from the Classic Comix. When one sets out to create, one must choose which genre to write in. Is my idea best expressed as a story, a play, a comic, etc?

All that said, I love both of the comic book versions of POLLINATION. The first one, pen and ink, was done by O’MELISSOKOMOS many years ago and is fairly faithful to the story. We don’t get into the characters head, but we do see what he’s going through – even if one of the spontaneous orgasms reads kind of oddly. The ultimate symbiosis sequence is really nice. You can find that comic HERE.

The more recent, CGI-version is by my pal GYMJUNKIEMUSCLE and he really uses POLLINATION as a launching point, rather than being slavishly devoted to the originally story. He adds a military angle, rather than the outer space invaders, and he mixes in elements from POLLINATION: THE SERIES, including the Great One. Visually, this is a stunning adaptation (and he makes some nods to O’Mellisokomos’ version). I would recommend his Patreon and his Twitter. (Not to mention the fact that GymJunkieMuscle is an actual bodybuilder as well as an artist – it’s one of the things I dig about his hypermasculine models. He “gets” it.) You can find this adaptation HERE.

I hope this answers the question you DM’d me, @leonardo

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It does answer my question, since I asked you for the source of the (only) illustrated story that @nycboot liked. So thank you @absman420. Now I can see what he meant. That is not a story with illustrations, but a cartoon, what is a different art form.
I focused my question on the addition of pictures to a written story as an element of an attractive lay-out. To make a story more accessible and more pleasant to read. I have absorbed the opinion of the community on the effort that I made to introduce new roads, and there is no positive reponse. The advise to produce some sort of copy of Tumblr feels more offensive than stimulating since I rather innovate than copy. So I withdraw my work and myself from here. And I thank @Martin for his efforts to technically make it work to add illustrations, what is not well possible either. However he does a great job for this site and it is good enough as it is.

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Leo, I hope you’ll reconsider and keep writing/posting what turns you on, just on general principle. People who respond to you in this forum are not necessarily representative of the readers of this site as a whole, or even if they were, who cares? People post extremely niche stories (extreme scat, for example) that I imagine the vast majority of people find nauseating. The important thing is if it’s a fantasy that you want to share with others (even if the others are only a tiny handful). If pictures with stories turn you on, share them! Don’t be so defensive and don’t let people (who by their own admission aren’t even aroused by the same things as you!) dictate what you post.

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I, for one, would love to see a story with images in it, assuming that’s possible with the current setup. It’s really up to the author what they feel is necessary or beneficial…we all have our own style. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only one doing it—I’m the only one doing fantasy castings, as far as I know, and I don’t let little things like “nobody else does it/wants it” stop me from doing so. Unless Martin explicitly forbids it (which I don’t see in the rules), I don’t see a problem.

Another option might be to embed links in the story so that readers who don’t want them can read through without worrying about the images, while those who are interested can click through to see them. This is what I use to link to images of my fantasy cast. It’s very rare, but I’ve seen other writers do this as well. The one I’m thinking of used it to link to a product that he was having a hard time describing. It worked quite well in that context. I don’t think it would be too intrusive to have, for example, “(image) Paragraph text” as a style. Or you could move it to the end of the paragraph instead, “Paragraph text (image)”, which is less intrusive, but doesn’t flag the reader that there’s an image until after they’ve read the text. I personally think it’d be better to put it before.

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I think there is a disconnect here. Leonardo asked whether they should be allowed. No one said no.

I and another shared our opinion of photos in stories, and this seems to have been taken as a vote to not allow, which is not what was actually said.

What should be allowed is whatever people want to post, within the rules Martin laid out.

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Leonardo did say at the end of his original post that he “would adhere to the general opinion,” so from his POV you guys’ opinions were a vote for “not allow.” I personally think Leonardo shouldn’t have taken this stance, and I don’t blame anyone for missing that detail, but it was there.

ETA: sorry for using the wrong name originally.

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Mafisto does stories with celebs/models casting as well, and I think I’ve seen a couple of other examples here besides you.

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In the end aren’t we all just saying the same thing. This site is open to everyone. Artistic freedom allows the people who submit stories to submit whatever they like in this genre with or without illustrations. The readers will “vote with their eyes” in the sense that they will either read it or not read it. I would urge Leonardo to stay, ultimately it’s his choice, but we will all be the poorer for his loss.

I would also agree with the fellow authors who have written here to point out that this is merely a forum discussion and not an election poll. My guess is that barely 2% of the people who visit this site and read stories engage in discussions on these forms. Hardly representative. :slight_smile:

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More importantly, who gives a shit what people think? I’m not a fan of stories w illustrations, but who cares? Why should that dictate whether someone posts one or not?

Someone else may.

It’s a ridiculous thing to say. And then to blame the readers because they spoke up w their opinions?

Whatever.

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Leonardo did say at the end of his original post that he “would adhere to the general opinion,” so from his POV you guys’ opinions were a vote for “not allow.” I personally think Leonardo shouldn’t have taken this stance, and I don’t blame anyone for missing that detail, but it was there.

But that is not a reasonable stipulation to have in a discussion forum. It carries an implied threat that one must not express ones opinion without causing someone else to, I guess, quit the site.

So yes, we should be forgiven for overlooking that - because it’s beyond unexpected, it is actually unreasonable.

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I don’t disagree - it’s very passive-aggressive. Just pointing out what was said.

I think should be allowed, yes can be misused cheaply, but so can any tool of an artist. Restricting it on a site wide level doesn’t strike me as helpful and if, IF we can encourage drawing artist complimentary group to contribute… well there are worse things.

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As Leonardo, I repeated a question from three years ago to find out whether illustrations could be a desirable element in stories. I referred to the use I made of them in the first two published chapters of an anticipated series. There they serve mainly as elements of a pleasant layout. I had not come across that use here. As a new member, I do not see it as my mission to present a -for me unknown community- with something that it does not want. Hence my question.

The first reactions were completely in line with those of three years ago: this is a text oriented site where illustrations can rarely make a positive addition.
I respect that, because it is a valid reasoning that has also long held true for the French quality newspaper of which I included an illustration: text alone without layout usually kills. As @retrofantasia points out, I have adopted this as the prevailing view.
And since I’m not a evangelist, I don’t see it as my mission to post stories here that apparently don’t fit. For me, that is a matter of respect. While I am well aware that I do have the right to do so as long as @martin accepts it.

The end of a well-intentioned and well-documented question from a new and enthusiastic member (right away a year-sponsor) is that @absman420 and @amur and @retrofantasia unanimous agree that I have come up with an “implied tread” and am otherwise “passively aggressive” and “unreasonable”.

I am amazed, thank you for the warm welcome. It is not the illustrations that make me a scum here, but a sincere question. I would immediately assume that I have done very wrong in formulating it and in a reaction.
OK, but let me say this anyway.
If people who are not native-English speakers nevertheless present reasonable-looking sentences, that does not mean that they can express themselves with the effectiveness and nuance of a native speaker. We do not learn this at school. English has an easy grammar, but

The end of a well-intentioned and well-documented question from a new and enthusiastic member (at the same time a year-sponsor) is that @absman420 and @amur and @retrofantasia agree that I have come up with an “implied tread” and am otherwise “very passively aggressive” and "unreasonable".
complex underlying set of subtleties, sarcasm, humor and understatements. Those who themselves speak another languages besides English will surely agree with that.
But with respect for this community in my mind, I write in a foreign language a question that is intended as sincere and not as aggressive. It is however not sincerity that is presupposed, but inappropriateness and offensive intent.