A Writer's Sketchbook

A Writer’s Sketchbook


Writers Write creates resources for writers. This post includes suggestions for a writer’s sketchbook to help you create characters.

How To Make Your Descriptions Even Better

Once upon a time I took an art class in the hope of giving my stick figures some life.

Despite the best efforts of my talented teacher, my stick figures remained rather flat, but what I remember most about those classes was her sketchbook. Pages and pages of eyes, noses, and lips. A macabre collection of features cut out of magazines and redrawn in her sure pencil hand.  I decided that if artists must practise then so should writers.

A Writer’s Sketchbook

This is my writer’s version of that sketchbook. I use pictures from magazines or the internet or photographs. First I write exactly what I see, and then I try to make it more descriptive.

The result: Carl examined his nose in the mirror. His face felt all tingly, but besides the red skin he looked the same. Still all wrinkly and full of pores, the pores, at least seemed cleaner. He just wished there was something he could do about the bloody bump. No amount of cream could fix that. He looked a back at the mirror, 65 years old and dating like a teenager.

A Writer's Sketchbook

The result: It has been months, but still I can’t stop staring. He is so perfect. He is so tiny, his ear a perfect miniature of his father’s. His hair is dark and fine, unimaginably soft. I run my finger along the small whorls in the peachy shell and tickle his chin. I only wish his father could have seen him.

You get the idea. I do this with complete faces and other body parts. I find pictures of necks and toes and dimpled knees. I practice. It starts as pure description, but a story always manages to sneak in.

Why don’t you give it a try and see what you come up with?

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. Why Do I Write Romance?
  2. Say It, Without Saying It…
  3. What Watching Disney (and Pixar) Taught Me About Storytelling
  4. How To Make Your Characters Shockingly Real
  5. Write About What Matters

This article has 5 comments

  1. Jen Cvelbar

    This is a great idea. You could do the same thing with pictures of scenery and inanimate objects as well! 🙂

  2. Nat

    Love this idea

  3. Gina Scott Roberts

    I’ve done something like this, noting descriptions taht really catch my imagination but I never thought of taking it to these lengths. Thanks for the idea!

  4. Bethanie

    What a great idea. I too tried my hand at sketching my characters, but never could get my stick figures to look like much. The pictures from internet and magazine are a brilliant idea. Now I know what to do with my sketchbook. Thank you so much!

  5. Eva Willsey

    I love the idea! I can’t wait to make my own.

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