Another way I’ve found to delve deeper into a character or setting or situation is through the use of pictures or images. I love doing this and have had some “ah-ha” experiences, but I’m a shy and messy artist. I have to keep reminding myself, we’re not making Great Art here, we’re using images to provide another window into our work.
It’s super easy and a whole different way to approach your work. Just set aside an hour or so for a collage/writing session. Gather a pile of magazines, several sheets of construction paper cut in half, some glue and a timer. (I like to keep my collages small, that way I don’t get overwhelmed by a lot of empty space to fill.) Give yourself five minutes to tear images from the magazines, then ten or fifteen minutes to cut and paste them into a mini-collage that relates something about your character or story.
Alternate writing and making collages. Let what you discover or uncover in the collage inform the writing. Didn’t know your character had a dog, but a dog showed up in the collage? That’s what happened when I made my collage of Roman, my protagonist’s boyfriend in my novel. The story that came out of that image revealed another facet of his character that added to his backstory and his motivation. A man with a dog is a whole different character than a dog-less man.
Let this be a playful exercise. Don’t judge your art-making any more than you judge your writing; that is: not at all. Make the exercise even more fun by doing it with a friend, or with your writing group.
Let me know if you try this exercise. Tell me your experience and post your collage where I can see it.