Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Character and Plot Development Through Drawing

I'm in the midst of conceptualizing two new projects and in both cases I've got a cast of characters and a general premise, but not much plot to speak of. I've done a vague outline for one project whose working title is The Door Under the Staircase (or DUS for short). It feels very thin though, and not terribly original. 

A bit of writerly advice: Never start writing your book unless you have the general plot in place first. With my first book I started with just a premise and no plot and the rough draft ended up being 1,000 pages long. 

While waiting for the rest of DUS's plot to come to me, I decided to work a bit more on my characters. I can already tell this is going to be a pretty character-driven story, and fluffing up the characters a bit in my mind should help me figure out where I want the plot to go.

So I did a rough (emphasis on the rough) sketch of two of my main characters:

This doodle is less about what the characters look like, and more about their relationship. Staring at it helps me to figure out where these two characters are at the start of the book, and where I want them to end up.

I hope some of my shitty drawings inspire you guys to sketch out your own characters. No matter what your level of artistic skill, having any visual representation of your characters can help you to flesh them out. 


  1. Yeesh, how many projects are you working on? You make me feel like a slacker.

    1. I'm done with Moorhouse for the time being, so I'm editing Renaissance Lab and I'm conceptualizing one old project and two new projects. And then of course there's a folder on my Desktop full of story ideas, waiting for me to come and play with them.

      I like working on lots of projects in various stages--I can take a break from straight-writing to do some plotting on one project or an out of context dialogue for another. I find I have more energy when I come back to my principle project that way.