Building tension

As part of my illustration course I have to learn about narrative and storytelling. This weeks subject is about building tension in a story and we had to chose a book to look at:

I don’t have any graphic novels to look at, so I chose ‘Guards! Guards!’, by Terry Pratchett.

It tells the story of how Carrot, a human who was brought up as the step son of dwarves, and who may or may not be the heir to the throne, comes to join the City Guard of Ankh-Morpork and ends up fighting dragons to save the city.

The book cover is illustrated by Josh Kidby who helps raise the tension of one of the crucial scenes whilst including many of the cast of characters in the book. The illustration is full of drama but also emphasises the emotions of the guards.

Pratchett’s writing style is humorous and descriptive, he also uses the device of writing a continuous narrative, with no chapters, but swapping between different scenes which create a series of cliffhangers. His narrative carries you through the book with the images he creates almost visible to the mind’s eye:

  The dragon accelerated. The drunken rooftops of Ankh-Morpork blurred as it passed over,     wings sneering at the air. The neck stretched out straight ahead, the pilot flames of its  nostrils streaming behind it, the sound of its flight panned across the sky. 

 Just reading that makes me want to read on. I can see the flames and smoke billowing around the dragon. Will Carrot and the guards overcome this monster? Does Carrot die in a blaze of heat and fire? Will a million to one chance with an arrow save them?

You can see how much I have enjoyed this fantasy story by the state of the well thumbed cover.  I often look through the characters on the cover and try and match them up with those in the book. There is sometimes a mismatch between the words and the image but I think Kidby   handles it well.

I don’t have permission to use an image from Guards! Guards! So I did a quick doodle.

2 thoughts on “Building tension

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