The Secret Language of Comics: Visual Thinking and Writing


I always adopt a systematic approach to tasks. Like a computer program, I decompose my writing process into small, distinct, and manageable parts. The program, written in java syntax form, continually add new text and images, effectively editing and revising a traditional essay until the final draft is acceptable and meets expectations. The new line added to the program, “draw diagram” line would effectively include visual thinking into the writing process.

The link to the assignment can be found here.


The entire literacy narrative project has had the most significant impact on me as a writer. It has not changed my perception of writing but rather changed the way I would approach writing by incorporating visual thinking into my writing process. My comic focused more on moments that were of relevance and had a bigger impact on me as a reader and a writer. My first literacy narrative draft failed to focus on my parents’ influence on my progression as a reader primarily. The comic rectified that error. Additionally, the first draft did not even explicitly address the negative impact of college essays on my writing. 

Constructing my comic provided me with the illusion of “writing” about a character from a third-person view, something which traditional writing failed to do. As a result, the third and final literacy narrative project was an effective combination of the images and text.

Smooth Sailing Through English 181

For the final Sunday Sketch I wanted to choose something that allows you to go from the beginning of a journey to an end which is why I decided to use an airplane. In order for me to do well in the course I need to incorporate multiple methods of learning and writing. Just as a plane can’t function correctly if a piece is broken or missing, I would not have been able to perform in an optimal condition in this course. I feel that as a writer and as a person I have learned that I have an easier time visualizing my learning with diagrams and pictures as opposed to staring at ink on a page.

Link back to original assignment:

A Thanksgiving Miscommunication

I knew that the perfect moment to “Tell a True Story” was on Thanksgiving Day when I awoke to my a series of frantic text messages from my friend that someone had thrown our food into the trash. Once I had gotten to the kitchen my friends and I all decided to confront the person that did it;however, when we did we realized we were speaking to the wrong person. So then we had to apologize and then proceeded to go confront the right person. Luckily, our food was still in sealed containers and we were still able to cook it without any other mishaps. It was difficult to tell a true story in a comic format mainly for the fact that I wanted an event to occur which was worthy of being memorable of being told in a comic. Once that occurred it was smooth sailing from there and I was able to create the comic. The most important choices I made during creating the comic was censoring everyone’s name that was involved with a pseudo name so that they retained their privacy.

Literacy Narrative Pt. 3 reflection

I believe that this entire literacy narrative project has helped me meet the following learning outcomes: “Rhetorical Composition”, “Critical Thinking”, “Writing as a process”, and “Visual thinking”. First, this project forced me to use rhetorical composition as I had to illustrate the same idea if different mediums such as an alphabetical text and a comic. I learned how to tell a story through words and pictures which forced me to really know what story I was trying to tell so it would be consistent. In terms of critical thinking, I was able to use techniques that I had seen in graphic novels and learned about in class when creating each part of my literacy narrative. Through writing as a process, I learned that my work required multiple drafts and a lot of prior brainstorming before writing my text. This was very valuable because for my first literacy narrative I didn’t really brainstorm much before writing, this caused the the essay I wrote to be slightly disorganized. For the second part of the literacy narrative, I created a draft and got feedback which really helped my vision of the comic I was making. I was able to use visual thinking when brainstorming what I wanted to draw or write. This visual thinking really helped me with organization of ideas as well as I could map out what I wanted to create before starting to create it.

When I returned to my alphabetic literacy narrative after creating my comic, I realized that the two narratives didn’t line up. In the alphabetic version, I was talking about how I learned to love reading again, which is true, but I ended the essay with a negative tone towards technology which wasn’t accurate. In my comic, I show the difference between my past, which has no technology, to my present life, that includes a lot of technology. The comic version of the literacy narrative was a lot more accurate towards my relationship with books and technology. To fix this inconsistency, I went back to my alphabetic narrative and changed the ending if my essay to show that I now use more technology, but that isn’t exactly a bad thing. 

Overall, I don’t see the story I was trying to tell any different. I always wanted to portray the fact that I grew into a world of technology and took advantage of that. In my alphabetic narrative, however, I made it seem like I was against the use of technology. I found that the second part of the narrative was a lot more accurate at showing my ideas. I used the part two as a guideline of how I could edit my alphabetic narrative to fit what I actually meant to say in the first place. After this process was over, I felt a lot more confident that I was able to tell the story that I had originally thought of in my head.

Anatomy of BeatsbyDre

For this final sketch, I was finally able to find something to take a picture of rather than drawing my stick figures. I look at writing, especially within this class, as an internal process that I have to go through. So while thinking of something to write, I was listening to music which helps me think and then I realized this was it.

The Frame:

I looked at the frame of the headphones and assigned that to Rhetorical Composition. I assigned it this only because when I look at the class I feel like rhetorical composition is the bones or the foundation of the class that you need in order to be successful.

Earphones (Right & Left):

I assigned the earphones to the actual thinking processes, critical and visual, because what comes out of the earphones is what I am processing when listening to music and causes me to think. When I am critically and visually thinking and trying to produce something, its this same internal process that I live through when listening to music.

Headphone Jack for Wires:

I assigned this to Digital Identity. I did this because I feel like you can go in and out of your digital identity at anytime. You choose when to plug in and when to plug out of it. Just like you can choose to use wires or go wireless. Literally, wired in or wireless.

Charging Port:

Writing as a process was assigned to the charging port because I feel like all good writers eventually need a recharge. Sometimes you produce so much that you either start repeating yourself or you become drained and cant produce. At that point you need to recharge and then you can produce more.

ON/OFF Button:

Last but definitely not least is creative freedom. I look at creative freedom as something you can turn on and off on command. Some situations require it and some do not so you are free to use it when you would like to.

Anatomy of a Writer

I chose to use a person as my diagram as I thought it was a creative way to apply the learning outcomes and what we did in the class into a diagram. In the diagram I chose certain parts of the body to represent each learning outcome and tried to match the body part based on the words used in the learning outcome. For example, Digital “Identity” is found in the fingertips because on each persons fingertip they have a special pattern that represents their identity. “Writing” as a Process is found in the hand because we use our hands to write, etc.

Anatomy of a Writer

I chose to use a person as my diagram as I thought it was a creative way to apply the learning outcomes and what we did in the class into a diagram. In the diagram I chose certain parts of the body to represent each learning outcome and tried to match the body part based on the words used in the learning outcome. For example, Digital “Identity” is found in the fingertips because on each persons fingertip they have a special pattern that represents their identity. “Writing” as a Process is found in the hand because we use our hands to write, etc.

Literacy Narrative Pt.2 Reflection

            Turning my literacy narrative into a three-page comic was difficult at first because I packed a lot of information into my formal essay of the literacy narrative. I had to choose which part of my narrative was worth converting into a short comic. My original literacy narrative detailed how I interacted with reading and writing both as a young child and throughout high school. I ended up choosing to make my comic about how reading shaped me throughout my childhood and through high school. I strayed from the original narrative by focusing more on the different novels and comics that shaped me as a child. I have Spiderman, Batman, The Three Musketeers, and even stories from the Bible and important tales that helped to shape my imagination as a kid. In the first part of my narrative, I just glaze over these books since I had a lot to cram into the paper, but I had more room to explore in the comic. In my opinion, it seems that the books have more emphasis when there is a picture to go along with the text. In my paper I could have gone on and on about the different ways the books helped me grow but having pictures of the different varieties of books along with text seems to have a stronger effect to me. 

            Changing my narrative comic form, I also added a bit of humor into the story. In the second panel I made a joke that I’ve been reading ever since I could remember and I drew a picture of myself in the womb with the text “Ok, maybe not that young”. I also think that the crouching Batman with a Batarang in his hand is a funny image as he breaks the frame. I felt that the original narrative just states a lot of facts while the comic gave me more freedom to change how the information was received. 

            I found that creating the comic was much harder than writing a paper. With a paper you can have an idea and write away and edit new ideas in as you go. However, when I was making my comic, I found that I needed to have a solid idea where the story would go so that I would not have to erase the sketches every time I thought of something new to add to the comic. I laid out a firm plan of what I wanted my drawings to be and added some of the accompanying text too.

Link to Literacy Narrative Part 2 is here