Artists Need Interpreters

We’ve all been there before. Envisioning the best scene for a story or an amazingly detailed illustration. Yet when it comes time to put this vision on paper, somehow the miracle idea doesn’t translate. 

With art, I can see right away what’s wrong and a lot of it has to do with practice. My hand just isn’t used to creating what I see in my head. Yet with writing, the defects are more secretive.

When we craft stories, we believe in the idea so much that we don’t realize our readers don’t see that same thing.

This happens quite often to me. That action-packed battle scene that has lived in my brain for weeks comes off as confusing. The reader can’t figure out what is going on. 

The reason the writing lacks clarity is because I didn’t fully flesh it out. That movie playing in my brain has some fuzzy spots, which were fine when the scene belonged only to me. But when I want to share it, I need some specifics.

Often by sketching out some of the scene with pictures or even storyboards helps tremendously. This way those vague bits can’t hide. What does that flying robot really look like? You can’t sketch what you can’t envision.

This reminds me of the play and movie Deathtrap, where a pair of playwrights act out different murders so as to get the scene realistic. Complete with a wall full of weapons.

Christopher Reeve is handcuffed by Michael Caine in Deathtrap

A cross-pollination of art forms is required. To get better writing, you might need to draw or act something out. To get better illustrations, you might need to write out some backstory or flesh out the scene. 

No one will ever have a window into our brains. So it’s up to the artist to translate the massage as best they can.

Write, draw, hum, act. Just never give up on your vision.

Tim Kane

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