Dive In By Doodling

Monday, April 04, 2022

Fleshing out a character can be fun... and sometimes, it can be a bear. 

My current WIP is on its 2nd main character switch. First it was a boy (based on a former student). I've never been a boy, so I switched it to a girl (again, based on a former student) who really didn't struggle with anything, so I made her a cutter. I've never cut, so I switched to the current main character--a girl who struggles with acne and depression (those are things I have dealt with) who's also been adopted. (That's me too.)

This girl likes to doodle. I liked to sketch when I was a teen (mostly John Lennon or horses), and I still like to zentangle. I figured I might try to intersperse an occasional drawing into the story. 

I started with an image in the middle of each sketch. An eye. A girl's face. A mouth. A bed. 


Next, I looked for some quotes that would go with the central image. I looked for five quotes to go onto each illustration.

Something strange (or at least unexpected) happened as I searched for quotes. I'd find quotes I liked (me--a 60-something-year-old woman), but I'd think about them and reject them.

Why was I dismissing some of the quotes? After all, they were inspirational. They were deep. They resonated with me. Why not include them in my drawings?

The quotes got tossed aside because they didn't ring true with my character--my teen character. I was learning more about "Maggie" with each quote I rejected and with each quote I accepted. I would dive into her head (created by me) and see what sayings swirled and swirled around in her brain... and didn't slosh out. The ones that stayed--I considered those keepers

Here's an article (with levity) about how art can help writers (at least scroll down and watch the 24-second video on the showman who makes naan-making an artform)  and another article that talks about why it's a good idea to combine writing with another art. 

I have writing friends who knit. Some create jewelry. Some are photographers. Some paint. They're all creative activities, and from what I've read, they can all help us as writers.

What (art) do you do--other than writing? And how do you think it helps you in your writing? Zentangling minds want to know...

Sioux Roslawski is a freelance writer, a middle school teacher and the proud author of Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, a historical novel about the Tulsa Race Massacre. If you'd like to read more of Sioux's stuff, check out her blog.



Theresa Boedeker said...

Great pictures, Sue. I think your readers will enjoy the doodles with the quotes from the novel. I do all sort of creative things from gardening to knitting. My latest creative thing is 3D pictures made with tiny flat convex beads that you place against a sticky canvas. It is a bit like painting by number, but with these teeny tiny beads. The pictures are beautiful, though.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Love your drawings, Sioux! I create illustrations for my essays--hand drawn, then digitally painted. I find it helps my story come to life in a fully realized way. I also give each essay a soundtrack or playlist. Some writers create drawings first to see where they're headed, but I think because of my art/comics training, I always write first then illustrate to fit the text. But I oil paint separate from my writing. The only time I create the art first is when I'm creating a mock book cover for NaNoWriMo, and that always gets me inspired. But I haven't learned to mesh the processes, but I know some writers who write like they paint. I was in a WOW workshop with Rebecca Fish Ewan, and she said her art process was similar to her writing, in that she takes time to pause and consider, and uses sketches to stimulate memories. She's the author of Doodling for Writers. I like your idea of adding quotes to your drawings! Your character really seems to be evolving and you're getting into her head, and it's so cool you're drawing from your own teen experience. :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Love your Zentangle drawings! You are definitely getting into the head of your character and what a creative way to do it.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Theresa--Painting by beads? Please do NOT show me one of your pieces of art. I don't need another monkey on my back ;)

Angela--Thanks. The artwork I've seen of yours--it's inspiring. It draws the reader/viewer in. Unfortunately, I can only use a pen and paper. When it comes to digital--for me--fuhgeddaboddit.

Sue--When I get into a rut, I zentangle. You-who-knows-no-ruts? You don't have to worry about alternative activities like that ;)

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux, I always feel like I'm lacking in the artistic department. I don't paint, draw, sketch, knit, needlepoint or anything of that nature. I've never been a doodler. I do love to sing, and enjoy belting out my favorite songs when no one is around, and could cooking and baking be considered an art form? I love your drawings and think they will make a great addition to your writing!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Singing--in my opinion--IS an art form. However, out of my mouth, singing is a travesty. ;)

I heard someone once say that baking is a science, but cooking is an art. I can see why somebody would think that.

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