Monday, January 10, 2011

Creative Choices Consciously

Jer asked me for photoediting suggestions, and as I was giving him a few tips it occurred to me they applied to writing as well.

  • Decide what you want your shot to convey. What do you want the audience to see? This can be as simple as a feeling or mood, or it can highlight style, aesthetic, fashion, irony, or just capture a good ol' slice of life.
  • Don't be afraid to crop the image to bring focus to your message.
  • Does it look better in black and white? Don't forget to play with the filters, like yellow and orange to deepen contrast.
  • Lightroom has some great options for adjusting tonal curves, applying vignetting, masking, and easily bumping clarity and vibrance. I'm not even talking about rubberstamping out defects, just applying focus to what's already there.
  • Use discretion. It's like accessorizing. Less is usually more.
  • The more experience you have, the better you'll be at making these decisions earlier in the creative process. Instead of answering these questions when you edit, answer them when you set the f-stop, shutter speed, and frame the shot. This yields best results.

How do these tips apply to writing?

First of all -- and I've been guilty of this -- decide what you want to convey! It's okay to stumble into it, but once it's decided make the message consistent. In writing this means choosing and organizing your details, your structure, your event order to maximize effect. In photography this means if you want to highlight color, don't make it black and white. If you want to highlight scale, include a human. If you want to make it visually interesting, shoot or crop with the rule of thirds in mind.

The more creative writing experience I have, the earlier in the process I should be able to make these decisions.

I'm about two-thirds done writing another short story about Prague. With this one I am consciously making decisions and going back and adding in the details that will get the story where it needs to go. As I do this more frequently, I anticipate I'll become more efficient.

On a related note, I get the irony of my "think before you speak" advice, since my motor mouth has elicited that response from others for as long as I can remember. But hey, it sunk in eventually. :)

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