A Picture Really Can be Worth 1,000 Words–or an Entire Novel

"A Picture Really Can be Worth 1,000 Words--or an Entire Novel" (blog post by Brenna Pierson)

For writers, pictures can sometimes seem the nemesis. It’s not just pictures themselves, though—take the idea of books versus the movie adaptations. Most of the time, authors by default want the book to be better (and it usually is). Seldom is the movie better than the book. It’s a writer’s craft, so it’s the way authors are designed.

At the same time, authors are often inspired by imagery. Maybe a plot or characters haven’t even been considered—but glancing at an image can inspire ideas on a setting or time period that’s too good ignore.

The photo above shows some artwork hanging on my wall that I got from Aaron Brothers. It’s just one of those images that can really draw an author in. The mysterious yet familiar setting of the Eiffel Tower is shrouded in either night or a mixture of both nighttime and rain. The people could be characters that come alive in the right story setting—though you can’t even see their faces in the painting itself.

Is it dreary outside, and that’s why the only color is from the light shining from inside the windows? Or is the interior light versus the gloomy exterior mirroring the people walking like empty shadows…until they join the crowds inside whatever warmer interiors beckon from the side of the street?

The trick is that it’s not just any image that can conjure inspirations—they have to be images that tell a story. We all have heard that we’re bombarded with thousands of images each day—but most of empty images, void of any inspiration. At least most images will seem that way for most people—until that one piece of artwork, no matter what form it’s in—suddenly strikes an idea. In some cases, the idea may be huge, like an entire novel. After all, what are stories but images played out in one form or another? At the beginning of time, they were brought to existence through word of mouth and so on. Let’s just not lose sight of one thing: Wherever the inspiration comes from, it’s all about the story and characters. Without them, it’s just empty inspiration.