Guest Post: “Story Design, Frankenstein (1818)”

Functionally Illiterate?

Guest Post: 'Story Design, Frankenstein (1818)'

Last October, the lovely Gillian Ramos asked me if I wanted to do a story design guest post on her blog. In January, I did. The story design posts were an effort to kick-start a series of design commentaries that I wanted to implement as part of my own website, and I had written the first post in September. But the intention behind them is bigger, and possibly even laced with delusions of grandeur: I wanted to unite the art of writing with the art of creating in order to confront the idea that designers are “functionally illiterate”.

Natalia Ilyin’s words bear much validity, because in many cases, it is true. It is also precisely is why I feel compelled to be aware of it and to react appropriately. While my reaction on Ilyin’s article can be saved for another post, it is not to say that story design posts are the remedy. However, to know that someone more intimate with language and literature acknowledges this feeble action gives me hope for my industry and the potential of my designer brethren.

Why I Like Story Design

I like reading and I like design. So I married the two.

“Story design”, by definition, encompasses all processes involved in creating a story, from conception, to arrangement, to writing, and to how it is presented graphically. I’ve seen many book reviews that offer an in-depth look at a book’s structure, writing, and tone. Some take an academic approach and link these to the author and the circumstances surrounding the book’s materialisation. When I find book-related posts written by designers, many of them cover the aesthetics of the book’s design, citing techniques, colour scheme, typography, and other elements familiar to the industry. With those types of posts in abundance, I entertained the idea of figuring out how a piece of literature works through design. One thing led to another, and I churned out a few attempts of my own.

Check Out the Guest Post!

The post, “Story Design, Frankenstein (1818)”, tackles the workings behind Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein. Be sure to check out the rest of Gillian’s posts, which are a great collection of book reviews of various approaches, her views on the MFA culture, a glimpse into the lives of people who are called into the writing profession, and a bunch of other gems.

Thank you, Gillian.


  1. jannie

    That’s really amazing seeing different covers of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” It’s actually my first time reading an article about different covers of a book. I picked a few favorites from the artwork I’ve seen. I really liked the penguin one. At first, I didn’t get why the penguin was there. Then, I read it was an anniversary edition of Penguin Classics. Because it is a Frankenstein novel, it’s cool how the penguin has this monster/zombie look going on.

    As for the other covers, I see a lot of twisted, dark pictures and artwork, which really matches the story.

    Thanks for sharing the article. It sure was an interesting read. :)

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