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Draw me a picture!

What is the shape of your main character’s nose?

Have you ever contemplated how far apart his or her eyes are?

What expressions does your character make when angry? Sad? Happy?

I think everyone who writes can describe the characters they write bout. We all know our characters’ hair color, eye color, general height, weight, and basic appearance. But, how often have you sat down and drawn one of your characters?

When I was a child, drawing was one of my favorite things. I used to think I was quite good at it, and dreamed of being an artist and an illustrator. While I practiced drawing and read everything I could about how to draw, I eventually learned I had neither the talent nor dedication to do it professionally. However, I still enjoy it as a hobby and like drawing pictures of my characters, even if the drawings aren’t any good.

It isn’t the final product, the drawing, that draws me closer to the character I’m writing about. The process of making the drawing is enough. It makes me think about them in ways I wouldn’t otherwise. It’s almost a meditation, thinking about the configuration of their features, what faces they make, and how their clothes look, and watching the drawing come to life.

It’s a process that brings them to life in my mind, and I truly enjoy it.

Drawing maps is also a lot of fun for me. Science fiction and fantasy writers draw maps all the time, especially if they are world-building. But neighborhoods, routes a character takes from home to work, even the floor plan of their residence are all up for grabs. Once again, it’s not the final drawing, but the act of creating it and solidifying the world they inhabit and its contents that truly helps me in the creative process.

I find it a really good exercise, especially when I’m trying to develop a new character, or simply have writer’s block.

If you’ve never tried it, go ahead! And, if you have some results, I’d love to see them.

Meanwhile, here’s one of mine. This is a character from the first Nanowrimo novel I finished.


Her name is Elizabeth, enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Draw me a picture!

  1. I’ve drawn quite a few of mine, it’s a really good idea… Although I draw horses way better than people and the world is not going to see many of my “people” drawings, it still helps you define the last details of the person you are writing about.
    Nice drawing of Elizabeth 🙂

  2. Great post! Yes, I’ve often drawn characters, as well as maps, floor plans, sketches of interiors, and so on – it all kind of comes together into a sort of ‘mood board’ or designer’s reference board for whatever I’m writing. I also grab photos – of the place I’m writing about, if it exists; of actors who resemble my characters, especially if I can find a good, expressive picture (publicity headshots are just… nah). Sometimes (OK, very often, I confess!) I actually use actors as part of my creative process – I’ll have something in my head about a character, maybe a fragment of a scene, a snatch of dialogue, just a look in the eye – and I’ll go looking online for pictures that chime with that. Or whatever it is will make a connection in my head with a particular actor, and I’ll search pics of them until I find the right one.
    Of course, writing fantasy makes for a whole different set of problems! I have a big story coming up involving genetically-modified hybrid humans, and just try finding photos of those on Google Images! So I’ve fallen back on drawing for them. It’s very satisfying, isn’t it?

    • Hey, thanks for commenting! That’s so funny you mention that. I do the thing with the actors too. I’ll often imagine, if my story/book were a movie who would play the characters, and have a “cast.” Actually, if you’ll look at the post before this one, in my short story “The Crow Girl” St. John Padget was always “played by” Ben Barnes.

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