Illustrations, yay or nay?

Hello everyone, I’m Wocalich. I’m currently writing a Circassian inspired fantasy story and since I use Circassian terms often, I thought it would be a good idea to help readers understand the terms by adding illustrations. Would it work in a professional setting? How many illustrations would I be allowed to add without turning it into a complete picture book?

Edit: After thinking it through, I decided to pass on the illustrations for now. I’m preparing a companion book with pictures I found from googling instead.

Illustrations make a story feel childish for me personally.

Unless I’m reading a graphic novel, I prefer a book meant for grown-ups not use them.

I think if you plan to query and aren’t targeting Middle Grades or YA, then illustrations should be avoided.

Especially if you aren’t a professional artist or illustrator, because poor quality drawings will drag the work down.


I’m targeting YA/New Adult and I’m planning on having a professional artist illustrate it.

But I understand your points. Maybe I should think more on this.

I do describe them.

Here is an example

“Let’s start with the names, shall we?” my mom said and started pointing out different parts of the clothes.

“This is a pa’o. It will keep your head warm during the cold winters.”

I examined the black wool hat. It was tall and cylin-cylindrical, was it called? I put it on my head, saying, “It really is warm!”

My mom nodded and continued, “This is a tsiya. It’s a long red coat that will look very good on you indeed!”

“Tsi-tsiya,” I mumbled, trying to memorize the word.

Then she showed a black shirt, “This is an arkhalukhi. You will wear it year-round over your undergarments.”

“Arkha-no, I can’t say that,” I laughed nervously while twiddling my thumbs and my mom pinched my cheek. “It’s okay, you will learn.”

She showed me my black ğonçec and boots last and helped me put them all on.

But I don’t feel it is enough to show the image without going into too much detail and bore the reader.

Here is what I'm trying to describe


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I just think that the actual words should sufficiently describe things in a book meant for older readers.

When was the last time you read a novel with illustrations in it?

Plus, if someone is still confused about the way something is described on the page, they can google the term and see a picture of it fairly easily.

It seems like wasted effort to me.


The language I’m using is dying right now, which is why I’m using it, so they wouldn’t be able to google the words.
Edit: Sorry, I didn’t answer your question. It was very recent, I’m reading a light novel right now.

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I think you’re doing a great job describing this. If you want to have the pictures, then maybe have them in section of your story, like in the back of the story, with the words to tell the readers what they mean. I think if you have a picture in each chapter that might pull the reader out of the story, whereas with the pictures in the back, allows them to finish a chapter, then go to pictures if they need help visualizing it.


That helps, thanks. :slight_smile:

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Welcome. :upside_down_face:

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I was able to quickly pull up the terms you mention. :woman_shrugging:


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Alright, you got me there. I looked up ğonçec and there were no results so I was talking based on that.

Okay so I couldn’t find the term goncec - but I’m assuming they are either pants or socks since you mention them along with the boots.

But I also note that you actually don’t describe the goncec at all in the excerpt you provided.

There’s the rub… you might rely more on illustrations than you should.

Kids are inundated with visuals nowadays, as a mother and a teacher I think it’s nice to give them practice using their mind’s eye for things like this.


I actually was going to describe it but felt like the description part was going on for too long so I cut it short. Do you think I should add it?

One sentence to provide a context clue isn’t a bad idea here.

It doesn’t read like you’re endlessly droning on about descriptive details (certainly no info dump in my eyes) because you’re interspersing it with actions and dialogue.

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Okay, thanks. :blush:

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Instead of illustration the book, which can be jarring for some readers, what about a compendium that you create after the book is done, or simultaneously published? A companion to understanding the world, so to speak? You sound very passionate about the Circassian world, and perhaps this would be a great way to introduce your readers to the knowledge behind the book?

An example I think would be most helpful would be The Outlandish Companion, which is a companion book to the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Check it out! Any sort of reference book for a fantasy series (think Tolkien etc) also!

A compendium, or companion reference will bring fans into the world further, help them understand, and for you, to summarize all the hard work you put into research! Illustrations, diagrams, scenarios and cultural touchpoints could be included and it could be quite beautiful when you are done!


This sounds amazing! I will definitely consider doing it. Thank you! :blush:

personally I like the idea and will help the audience familiarize with the culture, language, and terms. For me it would help me understand the story better and make me want to continue reading.

Theres always an audience for something.

What do you think of a compendium/a companion book as @/MustangSabby suggested? I feel like her idea helps tie together illustration or no illustration people.

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I seen others do that. On wattpad I would definitely do that but as a consumer not really lol

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