4 Arty Ways To “Draw” Your Story

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.

2) Characters

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.

3) Staging

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?

Related reads

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Make Your Writing Real Using the Five Senses

3 Ways Writers Can Use Instagram


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5 thoughts on “4 Arty Ways To “Draw” Your Story

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  1. Oh yes! I always love it when visual aids are discussed and you do a great job here. I’ve done lots of maps (I love making them). I’ve also created blueprints of buildings and town/city maps, but with less detail.

    I’ve also made sketches, prominent among those are airships, not just their exteriors, but also their interiors and the towers upon which they dock. That includes the docking system, boarding ramps, and how the cargo hold is loaded. I even worked out their navigation systems and engines sufficiently for the reader. Personally, I’ve never plotted a course that allows for the mysquanmic vortex before. Less complex are my diagrams of where people are seated around a table. It makes a difference. Depending on the size and shape of the table, some characters are more visible.

    I dearly wish I could draw characters. Instead, as you suggest, I’ve used Pinterest, though I shy away from celebrities because they influence my character development. My characters are always composites. There are also artists who post work on Pixabay. One of those paintings inspired a character and a vital element in the story (the key she was holding).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow sounds like you’ve done loads of drawings for your books. I think it really does make a difference. The reader can tell if you’ve made the effort. Plus I’d never considered Pixabay although I always use it for blog images.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, 99% of the time I use Pixabay for my blog. Last year, though, I was looking to create a cover for my NaNo novel and was after something abstract, perhaps fantasy inspired. By accident, I stumbled across someone who has a large number of fantasy and portrait paintings (darksouls1). The one in question might as well have been Zepha pulled right out of my head. The problem was she was holding a six-inch key, which was too prominent to ignore. So, I incorporated it into the story and it became a part of the title, Protecting the Pneuma Key. Yes, I know, it was just for a NaNo cover, but I’m a stickler for details. I still use it whenever I reference the novel on my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

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