Using Pictures and Videos to Write Fiction

First, let me start by saying this post is overdue. I meant to have it written and ready for you to read two weeks ago. Unfortunately, though I became ill.

The week that I planned to write this post I ended up with nausea, abdominal pains, fatigue and low energy. Then the following week I couldn’t stay out of the bathroom, and the fatigue and low energy continued. I thought all of this might be related to a knot I discovered near my navel a couple months ago, so I decided I’d better stop ignoring the problem and call my doctor. She scheduled an ultrasound of the abdomen to diagnose what she believes is a Hernia. I now have a follow-up appointment for Monday to hear the results, and I pray it’s not serious.

Since I’m feeling better, I was able to write the post, so here it is…

Using Pictures to Write Fiction

In the beginning I had a hard time understanding the “show don’t tell” writing rule. When I did finally learn the rule, sometimes I would get stuck on how to describe something (showing) so my readers could actually visualize the scene or character in my stories and novels. For instance, I knew what a messy room looked like, but I had trouble finding the words to describe it. When this happens, I’ll look through photos I’ve taken or search Google or photo galleries for pictures of whatever it is I want to describe. To give you an example, below is a picture of a messy room followed by my description — photo courtesy of Rubbermaid Products.

A messy room to help me show instead of tell

Instead of saying she was shocked when she entered her daughter's room. It looked like a tornado had hit it! I would write this using the picture to help me describe the scene: Her eyes were as big as saucers when she entered her daughter's room. Clothes littered the bedroom floor and hung out of open dresser drawers.

Whether it’s a scene, place, person or etc. you’re trying to describe, pictures really help you paint the picture for your readers, so to speak.

Using Videos to Write Fiction

Videos help you describe a character’s actions. Let’s say, for example, your character had a little too much to drink at a social gathering, party or bar and you’re not sure how a drunk acts. No problem, head over to YouTube to search for videos of drunks. By the time you watch a couples videos of a drunk male or female, you should be able to describe it in words.

Have you ever used pictures or videos when you got stuck on how to describe a character, scene, a character’s actions, place or etc.? What tips can you share with writers to help them “show” instead of “tell?”


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One Response to “Using Pictures and Videos to Write Fiction”

  • Tami:

    What a great idea! Usually I try to pull the images out of my head, but how much better to have something physical to look at! Thanks for the tip! 🙂

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