Some writers just write, others have more creative strings to their bow. I’m always interested in how other art forms can inform your writing. I’ve looked at using music for soundtrack, and using photographs and images (albeit not ones you’ve taken).
This post is going to be looking at art – more specifically the drawing/painting/sketching form of art.
Now I can feel some some of you reeling back from this in a “I-can’t-draw!” kind of way. Putting subjectivity aside, all these ideas are about using art to more fully explore your story, not to share along with it (unless you find you want to).
1) Maps and building layouts
Maps are probably the most commonly found drawings in books, especially fantasy ones. An invented fantastical world lends itself very naturally to a map and it can be handy to a reader if the story depicts various places and the journeys between them. Even if you don’t feel it necessary to include in the final book, a map (or several) will helps you understand how your characters relate to their world. You can define where various races, creatures and groups live, and what they’d encounter moving around.
But maps don’t have to be confined to fantasy. Unless you’re setting your story in a completely real place, you may find it helpful to sketch out where your story takes place. My “Cauldron Trilogy” is set in a village I made up and has several characters. A map of the village showing where they characters live, and the main areas of action helps me accurately describe how they I know how they’ll get around.
A map could even stretch to a building layout, if your story happens to revolve around a particular place you need to know inside out.
Drawing your characters isn’t just for children’s books, although these often seem to lend themselves more to these. I’ve sketched characters before and it’s fun to create what you see in your mind. If you’re nervous about doing people, why not use photos on Pinterest or in adverts to trace an outline and then embellish as you wish!
Or you could focus on something that defines them, say the clothing they wear, car they drive, their biggest desire or greatest fear.
When writing action, it’s important to convey clearly exactly what your characters are doing and how they’re doing it. Take a chase scene for example – are your characters inside or outside? Do they run down corridors, through air vents or climb over roofs? If you can’t visualise it properly, neither will your audience and any struggle with events risks taking them out of your story. So make it easy for yourself (and subsequently for them) by drawing out the action as you might with a stage play.
4) Special Artifacts
If I tell you that the boy and his father played with a red ball, you’ll know what I’m talking about without the need for more detail. But if I say the spaceship is being driven by a Theamatic Drive, I may have to give you a bit more to go on for you to know what I’m talking about. Equally if Great Aunt Maud’s mysterious puzzle box is at the centre of the action, it’s best to get your audience well aquainted with it and why it’s so, er, mysterious. And what better way to make any unusual objects real to you and therefore your readers, by drawing them.
So there’s a few ideas of how art could help you with your writing – do you have any others? Let me know in the comments?