This. All of it. I got stalled on the wordy portion of Brian Selznick’s new novel, The Marvels. I’m so glad I read this Q&A he did with Entertainment Weekly. Mainly for the question below because I was personally thinking the same thing this guy thought (switch the words and pictures).
This book starts with 387 pages of illustrations before the text kicks in. Were there any doubts in your head that that was something that could work? Did this feel like an experiment to you?
Yes. They all feel like experiments because with each of them I’m trying to use the pictures and create a structure that I haven’t done before. So I was very worried about having almost a 400-page story in pictures and then suddenly jumping and having 200 pages of a completely different story set 90 years later. It felt very dicey. In fact, a friend of mine suggested I reverse it, because kids generally like looking at pictures more than they like reading. He said that if I have all the pictures [first], then make them read for 200 pages, they’re going to feel like they’re being punished. But if I have them read for 200 pages and then have them look at 400 pages of pictures, they’ll feel like it’s a reward. I thought that was an interesting observation, so I actually rewrote the entire book. It took me three days to restructure the entire book so that it would potentially work. And after three days of work, I was finally able to see that I had been right in the first place — it had to be the pictures first and then the words. The understanding was that if the picture story is compelling enough, then the word story will be satisfying because the reader will want to see how they come together and how the character in the second story comes to understand his connection to the first part of the story. I knew that it was a little tough, but I thought, “This is the way that it has to work.”