Monday, August 9, 2010

Imagination and storytelling can be brought alive by using the entire spectrum of arts.

This is probably gonna be a longer post than usual, and once and for all, I'm going to talk about writing. Actually.

I'm gonna be talking about writing and storytelling in relation with other arts, visual and auditory in particular.

visual arts

I think I started out as an amateur artist before becoming a writer (I'm no artist anymore). When I was a kid I'd make up stories in my head and draw them out. So drawing was a way for me to bring to life my ideas exactly how I saw them, or at least almost exactly, because I suck at realism.

I use art nowadays to meet my characters. I find it's only after you draw them out that the picture in your head comes becomes real and there - like Sam, with his toque and blonde overgrown bangs, skateboard in hand, oversized Tshirt; oh, and he's 5'10" and skinny. I believe drawing your characters, your settings, and even your action scenes seriously help you "get into" your fiction project.

You can use any medium. Sketching is the easiest because all you need is pen and paper. I'm currently working on an acrylic-on-canvas painting. It's the 3rd painting I've ever done in my life and it's not going to well...although I am very satisfied to see the picture in my head elsewhere.

A great tool is Photoshop. The results are fantastic, although it is not easy to use. A good friend of mine (who actually convinced me to write Dancers, my current novel project) is currently designing my characters on Photoshop the way she sees them. I can tell we don't imagine them exactly the same way already, but that's another interesting point in writing, isn't it? Different people have different imaginations. Different people have different perspectives.

Visual arts is a fantastic way to get in touch with your creations. Especially for you fantasy-lovers. My personal project Dancers is a tale of dragons, demon slayers, dangerous quests, and old-fashioned kung-fu fighting set in a background much like ancient China or feudal Japan. (I'll talk more about it in future posts). You don't have to be amazing at art - as the side image shows my lack of artistic ability - but the love and inspiration to do it plays the most vital role.

auditory arts

Another good stimulation of the imagination is music. Music puts you in the mood of the book. Music makes your book look like a movie in your head. Music blares in your background while you hammer away on the keyboard. My suggestion is, find a piece of music, or put together a soundtrack, to go along with your project.

My "soundtrack" of choice for Dancers is a song called "Thousand years of love" (千年之戀) by Taiwanese group F.I.R. (Yes, it's in Chinese and I don't understand most of it, and my book has nothing to do with thousand years of love oddly enough.) However, the music - not the lyrics, the MUSIC - really colours in my imagined setting for Dancers. It reminds me of martial arts films akin to the French-dubbed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I saw yesterday at midnight TV, and that's the type of movie that's playing in my head as I write Dancers.

Music makes scenes cinematic.

I'm a person who leans more towards music than lyrics, so a few instrumental pieces are lining up in my soundtrack also. Find your preference, and find your soundtrack!

In short, visual art and music breathes life into my characters, paints vivid images of my settings, and adds energy and excitement into the development of my plot.

Of course, it'd be unhealthy to spend too much time in either of these activities, because we all know that WRITING is the most important art in this trio of storytelling!

So share any stories you have as writers who use other tools than writing to incarnate your imagination!

Stay tuned. More writing-related posts like this will be coming up. I'm still trying to get a firmer handhold on the cyber writing world and my new computer...


The Sandwich Arts.
(Nothing to do with literature and plenty to do with feeding the writer).


  1. Haha, Sharkii. I need to see what you have so far for your cover. We definately need to have a drawing day :D :D

  2. Sandwich arts! Ha ha. Well, you do have to feed the artist's mind, right?
    I used to do a lot of drawing in high school and college, and I still appreciate the fundamentals I learned back then!