A big part of creative writing is world building. Immediately, you may think that I am directing this post to fantasy writers or historical fiction authors, but I am not. Contemporary writers must do this as well in order for their world to stand out from the page otherwise it will remain two dimensional. Take for instance, if you are writing about a place like you have never been to before despite the fact it is set in the modern day. A way for you to take your writing to a deeper level is to better visualise your story by drawing your land and characters.
What I suggest is that if you are struggling with a scene, just stop and consider why you are having trouble. There can be many reasons and they may not all be present at the front of your mind. Interrogate yourself and be one hundred percent honest, otherwise the exercise will fail.
Maybe you have only been doing superficial research or have generalised history about your world. You may discover you writers block stems from problems did not even consider was an issue. Take for instance, apart from not properly visualising my world, I realised I was struggling because I was subliminally thinking about the black holes in my plot and the motivations behind my villain which I had only superficially considered.
Write your issues down on a piece of paper and attack them one by one. It is okay to take time away from your story to figure this all out because in the end it will help you and your book immensely. Believe me, when I resolved my issues I felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders and my mind was free. The story just flowed from my mind to the page.
Step 2: Back to Visualisation
A big problem with some writers (myself included) is that we can get obsessed with the story and action that we forget about the small details. These minor details are what turn a good book to a great book. A little while ago I was sitting in my bed and writing a scene which was extremely important to the plot of my book. I was so excited to write this part but no matter how I tried to write the scene I kept stopping every second line. It was then I paused to think about why this was and I figured out that I did not truly see the part of the world that my characters were in. I was ready to get into the action but I didn’t think about the layout of the town or anything. I thought that it would just come to me but it didn’t and therefore, I decided that I needed to draw out the landscape. This helped me properly visualise the place they were in and then aided me when I mapped out my character's movements in the scene.
What You Should Do
Here are the things you should draw starting from the macro view (your world) to the micro (your characters):
You should begin with Macro because I feel like it takes less time and your drawings can be crude. Plus they are less daunting to draw as they are places and not people.
- This is the best part of most books! The map of the world! Draw it so you know the geography of your book
- The first step is to create a rough outline of the place your characters are in, like a regional map.
- Then for more detail draw a town plan. Map out the buildings and roads, the schools and hospitals!
- If your characters live in a mansion or castle, or in a cottage in the middle of the woods, you should draw it
- Finally, if you are really finding the exercise inspiring you can draw the details of their bedroom or their favorite place to go for solitude. This can be really telling for a character.
I know this may seem like hard work and if you are not a drawer it can seem daunting, but remember it doesn’t need to be perfect. All this does is it helps you visualise your world better, it gives you are clear vision as to where your characters are and what they are seeing. Your drawing may not look anything like what it does in your mind (mine never are) but at least it gives you the time to see it with clarity.
When your mind is focused and clear, it will shine through your writing and so is the reverse, when you are confused your writing will be as well.
Drawing your character allows you to see the finer details of their face, even if you can’t draw it you can still reflect on it in your minds eye. Furthermore, when I was drawing my character I felt connected to him, as if he was my own and I knew him inside out. He looks different to the person I based him on (Kit Harrington) but in fact, the version that I have created is more Killian than even Kit is. Drawing him came at a good time, because I was feeling a bit distant from him as I have been writing in third person. By doing this, it made me see him for the first time. I hope that makes sense... maybe if you try it you will understand what I mean. It is indescribable.
Athanase Roux was born in Marseille, FR. His father died in a battle with the pagans as Christianity began to take root in France. His mother, clinging to religious belief, sent a 7 yr old Athanase to live at a nearby monastery. There he met his best friend, and later enemy, Thomas. And the two grew up together. When they were in their late teens, the two put enough money together from tutoring well- to- do students and travelled to Spain, where the gypsies were said to know the secret to immortality.
There they travelled, and Athanase was granted the immortal kiss. After a falling out with Thomas, he commandeered a new vessel and has led a life of piracy ever since. His name "Captain Roux" is now uttered in fear in the 1700s.
- It crystallises your idea in your mind
- It clarifies the scene for you and makes you understand what your characters are seeing
- It helps you refine the minor details of your world
- It enables you to figure out the geography of your world
- It will help work out your characters movements in a scenario
- By creating a map it helps you comprehend the complexities of the world you have created. For instance, if you are writing a story that connects many different countries or states.
- It helps connect you with your story and the world
- It will assist you under connecting with your character if you are writing in third person narrative
- It will clear you mind and let the words flow as you become unblocked
As you can see, clarity is the key to good writing. You need to crystallise your idea in your mind, because if you (as the author) cannot truly see what you are writing, how will the reader? Once you know the inner working and refined details of your story it will decrease the amount of worries you have that are plaguing your mind and the words will come.
Hopefully this helps you and you see the method behind my madness! Do you do this?? If you do send me your pics and I will feature it on my socials! I’d love to see what you guys are doing to fulfil your dreams!