What If? 80 – Illustrations

Exercise: drawing pictures can be useful at various stages. Start by drawing picture to illustrate your own work from the last couple of years. If you’re part of a writer’s group, try illustrating each others’ stories.Turn to a work in progress and draw an illustration for each scene or section.

Objective: A useful map of the energy of a story and what has stayed with you as author and reader. Provides info not accessible by verbal discussion.

Interesting. Zin drew a lot. In fact, I have a lot of Zin drawings from the Nightingale story and Harold. And of course “Doodle” has illustration as part of the story. I wanted that very badly and Ellen was cool with it, changed it a little but still, it worked. That was from the Gahan Wilson story I’d read years and years ago!

I love the illustrations in Aimee Bender’s “The Three Elevators” – only the cover and one inside, line drawings, very simple, but charming. I often have pictures in my head of the people in my stories, and I can see something like movies of certain scenes – the wharf scene in Drowning, for example. But for me it’s titles – I still think of “That Season of Madness” as “Glasses”, and “Drowning” is still “Drown” unless I concentrate on fixing it. I never expected to use “Green” as a title (I have a very clear picture of Jamie and Michael from that story) but that’s what happened.

I can’t draw pictures here, but if I were to illustrate the Mourning story, it would be hard because I’m resisting making the mother Asian, though I see her as Asian. I’ve noticed a lot of the afternotes in BASS indicate the author started with a vision – Danielle Evans saw a man in uniform with a little girl on his shoulders, knew she was not his daughter but almost, and that’s how the story started. Mourning, I see the scene where the kid returns her credit card to the car very clearly. Also her face as she says, “I lost my son, too” – anger, shame, grief, relief. I don’t draw well enough to capture those things, though.

When I read some edits to the Notes story in the writing group a while back, several people there said they could see it as an illustrated book with pictures of the notes, with Max playing with them, the old lady leaning out of the window, etc. I see the same thing, though I see it in live action, not drawings. The note coming out of the Victrola horn, actually was an image before it was written into the story. and now that I know I want to add a villain, I can see Max going into the Victrola after him.

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