Tuesday, November 13, 2012



I’m sitting here somewhat stunned at present at what I have learnedFile:Minard.png from my little experiment at trying to turn the main elements of my Marketing Plan—for books, needless to say—into a graphic which would fit on a single page. I’d show you the end result but, being my first attempt, it is still a little crude; and, anyway, it is secret. 

In effect, I have been trying to turn the guts of a 70 page plan into a single page without having any real experience of visual presentations. Back in pre-history, when I was in business, PowerPoint hadn’t been invented—as of course you will know, we mostly drew on cave walls in those days—and once I committed to writing, I focused on words rather than graphics; and found them quite hard enough. They are deceptively tricky little things. They look so mundane and innocent, and yet they can reduce the strongest to despair; and, occasionally to suicide. That transition from the brain to the page seems so simple—because, after all, if you can speak, you clearly have more than a passing familiarity with language—and yet it’s a skill which we authors will still feel we need to improve as our coffin lids are being screwed into place.

NOTE TO SELF: Instruct estate to bury me with my laptop, a couple of bottles of wine—and do not forget a corkscrew. Perhaps vampires are really authors who feel they need the extra time to polish their craft. One normal lifetime really isn’t enough to master the writing game.

Ironically, I had always thought of myself as a visual thinker if only because when I imagine a scene, it always appears in my mind as if it was a movie which becomes clearer and clearer the more I work on it.

Well, I have been humbled by my little experiment—not because I failed at it—but because I succeeded; and I am now wondering why I never gave my brain that kind of workout before. In effect, turning words into graphics—the reverse of what I have trained myself to do for decades—was rather like exercising muscles which had been decidedly underused. You end up tired—and perhaps a little sore—but pleased you made the effort; and perhaps rather excited at discovering a capability you could add to your skill set.

I am now wondering how I can deploy this approach to creative advantage. One of its many attractions is that whereas a book is essentially linear, if you are dealing with shapes in a program like VISIO, you can locate them wherever you want, and move then with ease. After that, one could progress to three dimensional graphic experimentation…

File:Napoleons retreat from moscow.jpg

Incidentally, one of best examples of a graphic communicating the essence of a whole story is Minard’s visual showing Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. I haven’t the space to display it adequately here (see above top), but I strongly suggest you Google it if you haven’t seen it before. It’s a work of genius—the visual, NOT the invasion. Where the invasion is concerned, Napoleon set out with approaching half a million men, and returned with 10,000. Careless of the man.

I also recommend an interesting site WWW.OAKTREE.US which features some excellent pieces by Rob Oakes on Visual Thinking and other matters.


Orso Clip Art





No comments:

Post a Comment