The Seeds of Stories

2013 Artwork Seed Sketch

I’ve alluded to this before in my article about beginning your stories and my article about the making of “CRIT” , but I thought that it deserved it’s own article too. Whilst the creative process is probably slightly different for everyone, one of things I’ve noticed with my own work is that whenever I’m trying to think of a new idea for a comic or planning a prose fiction story, I almost always start by drawing the characters.

The first character sketches from several of my comics. Click to enlarge.

The first character sketches from several of my comics

The interesting thing about this was that, when I drew many of these characters for the first time, I didn’t really know that much about them. I didn’t know their names (and I still don’t know The Dreamer’s name from “Somnium”), I only had a vague understanding of what their personalities would be like and I often had a fairly incorrect idea of what kind of comic they would end up being in. But I knew what they looked like and this sparked my imagination.

Not everyone starts their stories by drawing their characters, but it’s something I’ve always seemed to do – even when I was younger and was a lot more focused on writing fiction than drawing comics. Many of my handwritten notes for my old stories are often accompanied by (fairly badly-drawn) doodles of the characters in my stories. Yes, no-one else would ever really see them, but it was and is often an essential part of the creative process for me.

From 2005. I think that this character was called "Vladimir".  Thank goodness that this story never got written - it was basically a crappy rip-off of "The Crow" about a year before I actually watched "The Crow".

From 2005. I think that this character was an undead guy called “Vladimir”.
Thank goodness that this story never got written… .

I’m not sure if this technique is useful for every writer, but every writer probably has their own version of this technique. Their own way of finding a “seed” from which your story can grow from. Because if you can come up with a suitably good “seed”, then your imagination will be fired up and your story will pretty much grow of it’s own accord – often in directions which you just didn’t expect.

For some people, this might be a drawing of a particular place, a brief description of one of their characters, an interesting object, a collage of photographs or a single sentence. It can be anything, as long as it works for you.

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Ideally, the seed for your story/comic should do at least one of these things:

Make you feel curious: If it has a sense of mystery to it, then your imagination will absolutely love this. If it makes you think things like “WHO is this person?”, “WHY are they doing that?”, “WHAT does that thing actually do?” etc… then you’ve got a very good seed for your story or comic.

Feel like part of a larger story: If your story seed feels like it’s a short extract from a longer work, then your imagination will start to come up with ideas about what happened before and what will happen after it.The human mind and imagination loves to make sense of things, to put them in order – so, making the seed of your story a random scene from the middle of what will later become your story/comic can be a brilliant way of getting your creativity going.

This extract doesn’t have to end up in your final story or comic or whatever (and it probably won’t) – but just write or draw a random scene where something dramatic (even if it’s really cliched, like a movie-style gunfight) is happening and then let your imagination do the rest….

Evoke an emotion in you, any emotion will do: I’ve written about this in more depth in another article , but if your drawing/description/collage etc… evokes a particular emotion in you, then this can be a brilliant source of inspiration.

Make you daydream: All writing and creativity basically stems from daydreaming. If a picture or a description suddenly makes you daydream vividly about actually being the character in the picture or experiencing whatever or wherever is being described – then this is usually a good sign. In fact, it’s a brilliant one.

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In conclusion, the planning process and creative process is different for everyone. But, if you can’t work out what your next story or comic will be like then it might be worth making or finding something which will serve as the “seed” for a story and letting your imagination do the rest…

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6 comments on “The Seeds of Stories

  1. […] should have probably included this in my articles about creative blocks and the origins of stories, since it’s fairly heavily related to both topics. But, anyway, this is an article about the […]

  2. […] this drawing just intiruged me – I wanted to know more about what the story behind this drawing was. Anyway, later on that day, I realised that it’d be fun to do a surreal comic about […]

  3. […] I’ve kind of partially covered this subject in my articles about writer’s block and the seeds of stories, developing your own narrative voice & art style as well as a random comic I drew a couple of […]

  4. […] Creativity” + “DIY Worlds – The Advantages of Creating Your Own Settings” + “The Seeds Of Stories” + “How To Recycle Your Failures” + “Creating And Including ‘Forbidden […]

  5. […] already partially written about this in my article about the “seeds” of stories but I thought that I’d write another short article about how the best stories start life […]

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