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Draw your way into a scene

I’ve been experimenting lately with different ways to enter into writing scenes. One fun way is to use a sketchpad. I purchased a 5.5 inch x 8.5 inch Strathmore Sketchpad and colored pencils for doodling and have found it immensely useful for everything from sketching scenes to settings to drawing objects that might appear in a scene.

Not a drawer? Don’t worry, neither am I.  My “people” consist of stick figures and my depth perception is nonexistent. Fortunately, you don’t need to be Picasso to use sketching as a way to ignite your imagination.

The first thing I drew in my sketchpad was a dagger. One of my characters carries a dagger and I needed to “see” it in detail. As I was drawing the dagger and the sigils on the blade, I had a vision of the sigils glowing when activated so I added this into a scene.  As I continued to draw the dagger, I realized two other things about it that I hadn’t known before—these will also go into my story.

Next, I drew a map of the town where my story takes place. I drew the river running through town, the mountains, the canal, businesses, and where my main characters live. As I was doodling and just letting my mind wander, I had a vision of my characters hiking up mountain trails.  As I further imagined this scenario, an entirely new scene showed up.

Other ways I’ve used my sketchpad:

  • Mind mapping. Write a word or phrase in the center of the page and draw branches out from there with related words or ideas. (For more on mind mapping or “clustering” see this post).
  • Genealogy. I worked out my protagonist’s family tree in my sketchpad and discovered that the antagonist is related to her! Wow! What an eye opener.
  • Doodle. Let your mind wander and draw anything that comes up. Then draw the next thing. Think of it like word association except it’s image association.
  • Settings. Draw the various settings of your story—towns, houses, ball fields, the forest, a swimming pool, even the inside of a car. You never know what small detail might show up as useful.
  • Objects. Draw an object that has importance to your story. What does it look like? What does the object do, if anything? How can it be used? What is the symbolic significance of the object?

I’ve always wanted to learn to draw and paint so this is a great way for me to satisfy that urge. Knowing that I don’t have to show it to anybody allows me to draw anything without worrying about it being “good enough.”

Take the plunge and try drawing your way into a scene. The only rule is that you have to have fun while doing it!

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great creative exercise – thanks for sharing. I’ll have to give it a go.

    July 22, 2013
  2. I’ll have to try these exercises 🙂

    July 23, 2013
  3. I think this may really help me with my WIP as I come to making sure my idea is clear to the reader 🙂 Great post

    August 15, 2013

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