Your Phone as an Illustrator for Your Novel

I could not decided if Uncle Larry here had a very good side or a very bad side of him. Sorry, Uncle Larry, we all know you're a saint.

I could not decide if Uncle Larry here had a very good side or a very bad side of him. Sorry, Uncle Larry, we all know you’re a saint.

It’s widely known that a picture says a thousand words. Some of those thousand words can be useful to writers, especially if they have the picture.

These days, we have cameras on our phones. They allow us to snap pictures of places and people on the go. If you’re sleuth enough, you can take pictures of interesting people without them knowing it.

With a quality digital picture, you can give a clearer picture for yourself of a certain intriguing house or the features of a person who represents a character in a book. Apps on your phone can also turn pictures into illustrations. Cartoon Camera, for instance, offers free black-and-white or color pencil sketches, color drawings, and more for free. Buying the pro version of the app provides still more options.

These shots may even be useful in digital books.

Writing this post, I took a picture of a closet in my son’s room with Cartoon Camera, so I could think about what the main character, a young boy in my book, The Barnes Adventures. I was getting a visual impression of a particular scene where my main character hides in a closet from two thugs who are in his house. I pictured my mc behind that door.

A digital photo taken with the Cartoon Camera app on my Samsung Galaxy S III.

A digital photo taken with the Cartoon Camera app on my Samsung Galaxy S III.

An Excerpt:

The door to my room swung open forcefully and crashed into my nightstand. The lamp shattered on the floor. I should have locked the door! Next time.

“You check under the bed. I’ll check the closet,” that same gruff voice said urgently.

I promise, hearing “I’ll check the closet” is the worst thing to hear through a closet door. Hearing that phrase made an animal instinct arise deep inside of me. It’s hard to explain, but in an instant, I had the choice to cower in the darkest corner beneath my hanging shirts, or fight back.

Now, I’m not an aggressive person. My eyes don’t turn red if I get upset. I’m not even all that competitive. But something changed me there. I was no longer the same. For all I knew, I may have grown five feet taller and become the world’s strongest man, a superhero.

In this transformation, I gulped down the initial gob of fear that gets caught in your throat, and grabbed my skateboard and the hardwood bat.

I watched the doorknob turn, and, when the door opened all the way …

In sum, if you have an eye for photography, you can take advantage of your phone. If you don’t, you still can take advantage of your phone.

Do you use your phone to take photos of your scenes?

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  1. That’s interesting. My emergency-use only very low cost cell phone doesn’t have camera option, but I’m researching & considering upgrading. The photo option alone is pretty persuasive.

    • Hi Delores –
      Once you decide to upgrade to another phone you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. I loved my little flip phone for years, but having an instant camera is well worth the upgrade.

    • Matthew says:

      Delores and Michelle,
      I’ve found that the secret to getting the most out of your smartphone is trying new things. So much of it is installing apps and then uninstalling them, if they’re useless or unused.

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