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!