I Wish I Could Draw

May 8, 2010 at 5:16 am (fantasy, Setting, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , )

Right now it would be a very useful skill.  See, I had that brilliant idea of a character and the story is literally falling into place around her, only I had this dream the other night that was filling in a lot of holes in my story plot but it took place in this fantastic setting.

It was this enormous rock dome with this central pillar type thing, which was actually like a multi-level sky scraper and there were other pillars that also had various buildings inside and they were connected by these smooth rock walkways (that of course had no rails or any means of preventing people from tumbling to their death).  The entire thing was very clear in my dream and became pivotal in this scene I was envisioning and I can see it really clearly when I close my eyes but can’t really think of how to explain it.

This brings me back to the idea where I wish I could draw. Then I could map it out on paper and see how it looks when not inside my head and that would help me figure out how to describe it so someone other than me could make sense of it.

I did actually try to sketch it.  It kind of looks like a wilted mushroom and it wasn’t particularly inspiring.

In the next few days I’m going to sit down and just close my eyes in front of the computer and walk through the scene.  I’ll see it in my head and let my fingers run over the keyboard and see what I come up with.  Probably some weird word vomit but you never know.  I might just figure out the words to describe it and then I’ll be back into tweaking my plan so that this story actually goes somewhere.

Have you ever seen something in a dream, known it was going to be perfect, and been unable to explain it in words?



  1. davidburtonwriting said,

    Yes, definitly, but mostly for me it’s brilliant dialogue running through my head while half awake in the morning that somehow doesn’t seem so brilliant by the time I try writing it down. At least, I know that if it was once brilliant, it can be again with a little (a lot of) work. Maddening, but what can you do?
    David B

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Yeah, I prefer dialogue. I often have conversations running through my head for half a day before I can write them down. They lose a bit in translation form my head to paper, but less than images.
      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Arvael said,

    I think it helps if you draw a sketch – that was a good idea. Because no matter how it turns out, you need to look at it like a (vague?) draft and with the help of the sketch, you can imagine the scene with less effort even after years.
    I know there’re some ideas (be it scenes or dialogue) that I didn’t write/sketch down immediately after I had them & I have trouble remembering them. Even if I remember, it’s a bit different than the original one.

    As for your last question: definitely! But I see it as a challenge and this usually helps me overcome the difficulties 😉

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      The problem is, I think my sketch is so bad it actually makes it harder to remember what it was supposed to look like.
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Wendy Orr said,

    I’ve given up on trying to sketch scenes, but always do maps, and sometimes house plans, or street plans. For Nim’s Island I did a map of the island, which was tidied up by the illustrator for the book; for the one I’m working on now I’ve done a salt clay model of the mountain’s peak, as well as my usual maps. Every book seems to have slightly different requirements.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Maps are really helpful – they help keep your geography nice and organised and stop you from making silly continuity errors. Thanks for visiting.

  4. Barb said,

    I have a very visual imagination (one reason to try screenwriting, but apparently I’m not visual enough for that either), I actually see the story happen, but when I have to put it into words… most of it fades away! My drawing skills are not up to what’s in my head – if only I could draw things exactly as I see them… sigh!

  5. AlexJ said,

    I can draw fairly well, but I know what you mean by trying to capture the original feeling or scene of a dream.
    And I tagged you yesterday at my blog, Cassandra. Sorry, guess I was supposed to tell you!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I did actually see that, and I will pass that on sometime in the next few days. Thanks for that.

  6. laurelrainsnow said,

    I know what you mean! I visualize all kinds of things in my head or in dreams…but cannot draw or sketch to save my life. I consider myself a very “artistic” person, in terms of my imagination, visualization, etc., but I can’t draw!

    I think that’s a good idea of walking through the scene while you’re at the computer and then trying to describe it.

    J. Kaye is a writer who writes scene cards—I’m guessing she’s documenting her visual images—and I’m thinking I should try that.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Usuaully I’m okay with setting but for some reason this time I’m just having trouble seeing all of it and getting an overall picture of how it goes together.

      Thanks for the suggestion of scene cards.

  7. Kyle said,

    One thing you might consider trying is Google Sketchup (http://sketchup.google.com/). It’s a free program where you can build pretty much anything you want. I haven’t used it in a few years, but from what I remember, it’s pretty easy to learn how to use, at least well enough to create a mockup.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I’m going to admit that I can’t use sketchup. I’ve tried to use it to create models for various things for my work and they usually end up looking like sad little misshappen lumps that have been abandoned. My lack of drawing ability extends to using basic computer programs to create things.
      I know plenty of other people who find sketchup very useful though and I’ve been very impressed with some of the models they have created.

      • Kyle said,

        Yeah, I’m trying to get better at it. I’d like to be able to make at least a mock up of an apartment in my story that will be in quite a bit of it. This way I can simply walk through it and know exactly where the characters will be.

  8. Jemi Fraser said,

    I have to get better at putting description in my writing. I tend to expect th reader to see what I’m seeing 🙂 I have to go back in and add small touches.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I find that I sometimes do that too. I have a few people that I often ask to read scenes and then tell me what they think it looks like. Based on that, I usually have to go and seriously think about how I can get the reader to see something closer to what I was envisioning.

  9. emmiemears said,

    “I did actually try to sketch it. It kind of looks like a wilted mushroom and it wasn’t particularly inspiring.”

    Story of my life. My mom can sketch beautifully, my uncles all draw/paint/restore priceless carousel horses, my grandmother paints, my grandfather paints…and I….well. I vigorously doodle stick figures, and though I do it with aplomb, it lacks a certain finesse.

    I also get these fantastic views of imagined worlds and wish I could force them through my little paw and onto paper. I guess for us, words are our paints and brushes.

  10. catwoods said,

    Absolutely. And I can’t draw either, so it’s hard to capture those settings as they appear.

    Best luck~ cat

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