Writing Exercise – Honing Visual Inspiration

The beginnings of your concepts and Honing your Ideas to build your world!

Have you ever gazed into a piece of artwork, surreal or abstract, and were immediately bombarded with inspiration? Did the sudden swell of ideas guide you to your next outline or story revision? It has happened to me a lot! So I made a writing exercise out of it!

I have always been drawn to the visual arts. Paintings and photography to name a few. Art was the media that effectively choreographed the fireworks in my head.

Some time ago, I realized an opportunity for developing stories through the visual media I consumed. A form of journalling that is not anything new but to me changed the way I designed my characters and the worlds I weaved around them. I call my story-centric writing exercise “Images Reimagined” and today I would like to share my elementary method with you.

Let us begin this exercise…

I am going to start by explaining my simple process to get my creativity flowing and then follow up with an example. My first step is…

Honing Image that Inspired you:

No matter the artform, I obtain a still picture of what has inspired me. One time, I snapped a picture of a waterfall that erupted from the side of a cliff. Another time, I doodled the shape of an interesting tree. Inspiration comes constantly – take every opportunity to seize it!

I brought up the waterfall picture since it became the inspiration for the ‘Phlegethon Bridge’ in my current project: a massive flaming spirit bridge that carries souls between the Spirit Worlds. The latter birthed my idea of the spirit trees on the ethereal plains. They are bright calming essences that appear throughout the Spirit Worlds whose roots connect and hide hidden passageways between them. My point is that no matter where it takes you, you just have to obtain a picture of it for reference.

Exercising Meditative Journalling:

It does not matter where and how you set up a good writing session. This is an opportunity to get comfortable and have fun with your thoughts. In my case, I set up in my studio, at my roll-top desk which houses my notes and collection of fidget toys which I use during all my writing exercises and sessions. After playing with the fidgeters, I prop myself up to write and decide on the hand-written or typed word. I put on some thematically appropriate music and get to work!

Questioning the Inspiration:

This part is the most work. While inspiration hits a person hard, like a dopamine rush, actually molding it to your story will take effort and compromise. To make this exercise work for me, I ask myself this rough set of questions:

  • What aspect of the story does this image inspire me to change?
  • When does it come into effect in the story? Has it always been there?
  • Who in the story does this inspiration alter? What development can I garner from this image?
  • Where would these changes best suit the overall narrative of my project? Does it uphold the theme or tone?
  • Why should I include this inspiration in the first place? How does it strengthen my story?

Remember, this is only a suggested set of questions meant to help you develop your own analysis of your inspiration. After answering one of these, you might find yourself going down a rabbit hole of possibilities. Though fun at times, I encourage you to rein yourself in and mold your creation to however you may wish.

So where is this Exercise going?

In this part of the writing exercise, I leave it open-ended. Whether I decide to pursue or halt my efforts towards my inspiration, is up to me. How I incorporate these fireworks into the show of my story is up to me. And that is the fun of it. This exercise is a development tool for you to add to your creative toolbox and I hope with it, you can craft some amazing stories.

Let’s see it in action then! To end my piece, I will provide an example of Images Reimagined below. Remember, this is my way of documenting my inspiration. I encourage you to make it your own and use it how you will. Regardless, let’s go!

The great thing about ‘Images Reimagined’ is that, like a river, you should let the creativity just flow out of you.

I have taken the liberty of finishing the first step of my challenge and found my inspiration – The Gate of Sahaquiel by Peter Mohrbacher. Please take a moment to view Peter’s portfolio on ArtStation. Incidentally, this piece further inspired my ‘Phlegethon Bridge’ concept in my current work:

The Gate of Sahaquiel – Peter Mohrbacher

Now I would like to run you through a recreation of my original thought process:

My thoughts on my Image Reimagined Exercise

That massive gate looks like a portal to me… I like its scale – a lot of different spirits or constructs could move through it. How about my bridge idea? I want to have a more impressive visual aesthetic for the connection between my spirit worlds. Furthermore, what if the gateway was just an ornate archway that would stand before a waterfall flow of flaming Vim Energy? Vim would fall freely from their sky and part the dense clouds. What if the flowing fog in the picture was actually flaming liquid energy that fed the veining rivers throughout the Titan Realm, spreading Vim throughout the world?

The jagged mountains around the base of the archway are perfect for my setting. A sense of danger and hostility to the landscape – cut and sheered by the many abominable entities from the Abyss. Their formations would set the course of the flowing rivers of Vim – cut and formed into pathways up to the Phlegethon by the Titans themselves. Those banner-looking things just in front of the Archway could be sigils of powerful clans or houses within the realm. Nah! I will probably replace them with statues or some more appropriate cultural piece of Titan society.

This place would be sacred in the Titan realm and devoid of settlement. The only individual around would be the Gatekeeper Entity who would determine if travel was to be granted. This means that only Titan champions could ride the Phlegethon out of the Realm.

Conclusion on this Concept

In conclusion, the above summary of my thoughts on the Gate of Sahaquiel does not do the image justice to how many ideas it planted in my head. Your analysis of your inspiration may be as complex as an essay or as simple as a bullet-point list and that is more than okay. Develop your process and produce your content your way!

Though I focus generally on visual media, never forget that you can apply this writing exercise to any form of media that inspires you. Music, Performance Art, etc. Never limit yourself and may your inspiration be limitless!

Thank you so much for taking the time to investigate my writing exercise – Images Reimagined. I truly hope that this simple form of journaling will help you in your writing.

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