How do you make a rough outline turn into an interesting story? The same way you turn a flat circle into a 3-D sphere.
But how? Well, there is one key element in drawing that really helps something pop off the page, and that is shading. It is a simple concept. You just have to mimic the way light reflects and reacts in real life. But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. It takes a considerable amount of practice to know where to shade, where to leave light, and how to make it all come together.
I’d say this is very similar to writing. You start with an outline or idea, (similar to starting out with a our flat circle) then add characters, dialog, scene, maybe some plot twists, and there’s your story! But just as the artist knows it’s not that easy to pull out a well drawn sphere, the writer knows it takes a lot of work and practice to write a well done, engaging story.
But what is it about shading that really makes the picture pop out? I’d say it’s the contrast, which is another big part in drawing, and goes hand-in-hand with shading.
Just as stories are nothing without conflict, drawings would be nothing without contrast. It’s that difference between the deep shadows on the sphere and the stark whiteness of the page that make the sphere come alive.
Contrast is not the same as conflict, but it is very similar and can also lead to conflict. You can add contrast to your characters. Real people are layered and often have sides of themselves they do not show. You can do the same for your characters. You can add contrast.
So what does contrast look like in writing? Contrast can be just about anywhere. One of the obvious ways to have contrast, is between your protagonist and antagonist.Whether in their points of views, their personality, or some other way.
You can put contrast between two characters, either friends or enemies. Or put contrast in just one character. No one acts the same all the time, so if an unexpected side of them comes out in a stressful moment, it can help add depth or be used to advance the story.
Contrast can be put in scenery as well. You could use it in the scenery itself, like a lone evergreen in the midst of a dead wood. Or it might be fun to have the contrast between the scenery and something else, like a character being unusually happy on a rainy day.
One other place contrast can be used is throughout the story itself. Having high and low moments that really standout from each other is a way to use contrast that can break up any monotony a story may be collecting. Your character is on a journey, don’t make that journey easy, otherwise it gets boring.
With all that in mind, however you use contrast, use it to deepen and further your story. Just as the artist enhances a circle, into a sphere.