Do I See It as I Write It?

That was what my wife asked me yesterday: “Do you see it as you write it? And do you hear the dialogue?”

The answer to both is yes. As the story unfolds, it’s like a movie playing in my head. I’d like to get some background music playing with it, too, but I haven’t yet mastered that facet of the art.

If I don’t see it, I reckon the reader won’t see it, either. I had some help with the lake monster from The Temple, pictured above: it’s really just the Liopleurodon from Tim Haines’ Walking with Dinosaurs, and I emailed artist Kirk DouPonce with the applicable clip from the movie. But I had to add the lake, the cliffs of Kara Karram, and King Ryons’ army reacting to the unexpected intrusion. Nothing to go on there but my imagination.

Kirk uses live models to pose as story characters on my covers. Because he takes the trouble to read the books before he goes to work on them, he sometimes paints a character exactly as I imagine him or her to be. I don’t know how he does that.

I watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books because it helps me to harness my imagination. In my mind, the characters that populate the stories are as real as Kirk’s models. Sometimes I find myself casting movie and TV actors to portray them; and when that works, it works really well indeed. Wes Studi as Ysbott the Snake. John Nettles as Lord Chutt. And so on–it really works. And it gets me cranked up to imagine and describe things and people that I haven’t seen in any movie. I can even see and hear Helki the Rod–and I don’t know of any actor that can play him.

Patty’s last question, though, isn’t quite so easy to answer: “When you’re seeing and hearing all these things, how do you come back?”

But we don’t have to worry about that until I start having trouble coming back.

12 comments on “Do I See It as I Write It?

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this information. I am an aspiring writer since my retirement, and hungry for any insights authors are willing to share. I am currently reading “The Words,” an autobiography of John Paul Sarte, and believe it or not, I get insights into writing even from him. R. J. Rushdoony would have everything already written in his mind before he flawlessly wrote it down by hand on paper (but then, he as a savant!). My self-published book should be out around Christmas time.

  2. It’s my personal opinion, but for some reason every time I listen to Ron and Kelly’s version of Be Thou My Vision, scenes from Bell Mountain pop into my head. Unfortunately it’s not on YouTube, but it can be listened to on their website: (it’s the second track)

  3. I love John Nettles in “Midsomer Murders.” My wife says his character, Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby, speaks in a peculiar way but I don’t see (hear) it. Wes Sturdi was good in “Dances With Wolves.” Care to share other actors you imagine being your Bell mountain characters? I remember your contest where we suggested actors to play the parts in a movie version of Bell Mountain but it sputtered out for lack of participation ( or is that for lack of imagination).

    i really like the way President Trump emphasized appealing to America’s imagination in choosing to strive for greatness.

    1. Wes Studi is a great actor–see him as the villain, Magua, in “Last of the Mohicans”–and he’s gotta play my villain, Ysbott.
      Robert Shaw as Roshay Bault…
      Anton Lesser (oh, yeah!) as the not-quite-legal First Prester, Lord Otvar…
      I can do this all day. In fact, when I’ve got a book going, I have to.

    1. He also plays Agatha Christie’s Justice Wargrave in “And Then There Were None.” I watched a few clips from “The Last Action Hero” on YouTube since I never watched it before.

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