It always surprises me how limited my visual imagination is. Lots of painters like to paint from life, but I feel like it’s a little unusual to announce that I like to write from life. Most of my story ideas come from looking at visual art. I see characters in unexplained action, painted into motion and begging me to give them a full and rich story behind their present circumstances. Once I’ve got them, I go back and tweak them until they aren’t physically recognizable, but it troubles me that I need this in order to jumpstart my creative process.
I think my struggles with setting and environment spring from much the same issue. Dialogue comes easy to me, and I can find the words I need to describe any person or environment once I can envision it, but it’s getting to the part where I can really see the scene in my mind’s eye that is the hardest for me.
I’m good with concepts, and I think my strength rests in my ability to imagine bizarre and interesting relationships for characters, propelling them into unique conflicts and giving them intriguing motivations. If I can claim to be good at anything, I think it’s that.
Does anyone else feel like this is a challenge for you? What is the hardest part of drafting (or simply outlining) a story for you? It’s always interesting to look at how different everyone’s creative process is…and be jealous of those who it comes more naturally to.