Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A to Z: (D)raw Things Out

So, you're doing a scene in this house with your two main characters and the hard wood floor suddenly changes to blue, plush carpet and a chair bursts out of existence on one side of the room and back into existence on the other. Am I the only one who saw that? They don't seem surprised at all. What do you mean this story has nothing to do with magic or hauntings?

Sometimes it's hard to keep track of the details. We leave a setting and come back to it later, and it has some changes in it that we missed. Most of the time, the readers won't think anything of it, but when you make an unforgettable setting, it stands out when things change.

A little trick I picked up after my first story was drawing out my settings. Honestly, I'm a lousy artist, but as rudimentary as the drawings are, they still help.

Draw out a floor plan for all rooms/houses/buildings you'll use. You can even draw a makeshift outdoor setting (or use real pictures) you need. Color them, or write out what color/material is used. Don't forget about furniture or decorations. After all, that stick figure painting on the wall might catch someone's eye.

When you draw out your outdoor settings, make sure to point out the paths your characters take, and places where they stop. You'll want to add extra details the characters may notice in these places.

Lastly, this can be something fun to do with your stories. It also gives you a great excuse to procrastinate on the actual writing a little longer.

Now, before I go, I want to show you one of the drawings. This is from A Place Called Earth.


  1. I did this for a fantasy novel I have yet to complete. It's a future sci-fi fantasy along the same lines as Joss Whedon's Firefly series. Space cowboys and all that jazz.

    I drew out entire galaxies, filled up some Excel spreadsheets, developed character sketches, and even created lineage trees so I could remember who was related how.

    When you have a complicated book, you need to organize. It's only with the simple fictions like horror and romance where you can get away without keeping track of details. For world-building, though, you'd better take good notes!

    - Eric

  2. Good one for the "D" part of the Challenge. I like to draw out rooms, before I re-arrange, flower gardens, before I plant, landscaping before I begin. Problem is, when I'm done,I usually have a lot more room on the paper than I do with the actual project. Looking forward to reading more.
    I found you with the ‘surprise me’ button. I’m a new follower of yours. I'd love to have you check out my take on the A to Z Challenge, comment and follow, if you'd like.
    Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

  3. I've drawn out every setting of my (modern fantasy) novel in MSVisio, and I'm on my 7th scrapbook on world, characters, etc.

    I might have overdone it, but it was fun, and it helped build the story in my head. ;-)

  4. I've never done this before but it's a good idea because it combines two things I need to do more of: art and writing. Great topic for today.

  5. I love drawing out floor plans and maps for my stories. It helps me stay organized and remember where everything is!
    Doing a great job with the A-Z challenge =)


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