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  • Writer's pictureTobey Alexander

Visualising Stories: A Deep Dive into My Unique Storytelling Process

Embracing my autism, I've developed a unique and visual-centric approach to plotting and planning stories. This method, unconventional yet effective, is a testament to the power of embracing one's individuality in the creative process. In this extended exploration, I'll share the intricacies of my technique, from the role of notebooks to the final realisation of a story.


Notebooks: Capturing the Ephemeral: My journey with storytelling often begins with a simple notebook. These are not just repositories of ideas but sacred spaces where fleeting thoughts are given form. I write about potential characters, plot twists, and dialogue snippets. These notebooks, brimming with unfinished stories, symbolise the ceaseless flow of creativity that characterises my mind.


The Visualisation Process

The cornerstone of my writing process is visualisation. I immerse myself in an imagined world, where scenes unfold in vivid detail. This mental cinema is not just a playground but a workshop where the narrative's skeleton is assembled. I live with my characters, understanding their motivations and fears, which often leads to profound and unexpected developments in the story.


A Unique Writing Rhythm

My approach to writing is rhythmic - a dance of creation and reflection. After visualising and penning down a scene, I step back, allowing it to simmer in my mind. This ‘write and leave’ method, though it may seem haphazard, is a deliberate strategy that lets the story breathe and evolve organically.

Character Creation and Development: Characters are not just names on a page; they are living entities in my world. I spend hours contemplating their backstories, quirks, and relationships. Sometimes, I even conduct mock interviews with them, a technique that helps me understand their perspectives and refine their voices in the narrative.


The Importance of Sketching

While I may not be a skilled artist, sketching scenes and characters is an integral part of my process. These sketches, rough and unrefined, are visual anchors that keep me connected to the story’s essence. They serve as a bridge between the nebulous ideas in my mind and the concrete words on the page.


Preparing for the Writing Phase

Before I embark on the actual writing, two rituals are indispensable. Designing a first draft cover is not just about aesthetics; it's a visualisation tool that makes the project tangible. The second ritual, choosing a title, is equally crucial. A title is the soul of the story; it's the first thread that weaves the narrative together.


Embracing Digital Tools

My visual approach extends to the tools I use. Learning Photoshop and AI design has empowered me to bring my visions to life. I often start with Canva for draft covers, enjoying its simplicity and flexibility. When writing, I use Atticus, as it allows me to see my projects visually, further enhancing the connection between my vision and the written word.


The Ever-Evolving Mind Maps

Beyond notebooks, my room is adorned with mind maps sprawling across large reels of paper. These maps are ever-changing, growing with each new idea and insight. They are physical manifestations of the intricate web of plots and subplots that make up my stories.


Challenges and Rewards of My Method

This method, tailored to my neurodiverse brain, is not without challenges. Keeping track of the sprawling ideas and ensuring coherence can be daunting. However, the rewards are immeasurable. The depth and authenticity this process brings to my stories are unparalleled, making each finished work a true labour of love.


My storytelling journey is a celebration of individuality and the power of visual thinking. By sharing the details of my process, I hope to inspire others, especially those with unconventional minds, to embrace their unique approaches to creativity. The world of storytelling is enriched by diversity, and every unique method adds depth and colour to this vast tapestry.


I invite you to share your own creative processes and how they shape your storytelling. Let's create a community where diverse methods are not just accepted but celebrated. Share your thoughts and let's inspire each other in our creative endeavours.


This dynamic scene captures a writer in the midst of a brainstorming session, surrounded by notebooks, sticky notes, and mind maps. It vividly conveys the energy and creativity involved in the initial stages of story development.
Brainstorming in action

Practical Steps for Aspiring Authors to Capture Their First Idea:


  1. Start With a Brainstorming Session:

  2. Create a Vision Board or Mind Map:

  3. Develop a Rough Outline:

  4. Write a ‘Scene Card’ for Key Scenes:

  5. Flesh Out Your Characters:

  6. Set Aside Regular Writing Time:

  7. Begin with a Scene, Not Necessarily the Beginning:

  8. Embrace Imperfections in Your First Draft:

  9. Seek Feedback and Iterate:

  10. Enjoy the Process:


By following these steps, aspiring authors can effectively capture their first idea and embark on their writing journey. Each writer's process may vary, but these foundational steps can help in channelling creativity and structuring initial thoughts into a coherent story.


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