by Carrie Stuart Parks

My “day job,” the one I can’t give up until a vast number of people go on a buying frenzy and purchase enough books to put me on the New York Times bestseller list, is teaching art. Specifically, I teach people to draw faces. Most of them aren’t artists. In fact, most students, on a good day, couldn’t draw blood with a knife. And they have only one week to learn how to draw. When I’m finished, my students, mostly law enforcement professionals, will go on to draw the faces of murderers, rapists, robbers, and other bad guys from the descriptions of victims or witnesses of crimes. I’m a forensic artist, and I teach forensic art.

That’s very interesting, Carrie, but what does that have to do with writing?

Stay with me now, I’m getting there. In order to teach people to draw the human face quickly and accurately, I had to do two things: learn how the mind perceives and processes information then break that information down into usable components.

When I first started writing fiction under the tutelage of my mentor, Frank Peretti, I discovered amazing parallels between learning how to draw and learning how to write. I reasoned that the mind would process writing in much the same way as art and that writing could be broken down into usable components that would accelerate the writing learning curve.

Drawing is about seeing—not what you THINK you see but the reality of what’s there.

Writing is about seeing, not what you THINK you’ve written, but the reality of what you’ve put down on paper.

The drawings above show “pre-instructional” and “post-instructional” by the same student completed after two days of class.

Writing is hard work. Persistence, constant learning, and honing your craft will eventually pay off. Don’t give up after the first sketch!

The drawing above is one by my husband, Rick, and myself and is featured in the book Secrets to Drawing Realistic Children.

Now comes the fun part—I want to share all this with you. Come and join me at the Oregon Christian Writers’ conference on February 23. I promise you it will “draw” you in.


Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning, internationally known forensic artist. She travels across the United States and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law-enforcement professionals including the FBI, Secret Service, and RMCP. Her novels in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre have garnered many awards including the Carol, Christy, and INSPY awards.


Carrie will share more about “The Fine Art of Writing” in her inspiring keynotes at the upcoming OCW Winter Conference February 23rd in Salem. She will also teach two one-hour workshops on the craft of writing, including how to create tension for “page-turning” stories. For more information about Carrie’s workshops and the 2019 Winter Conference schedule, visit our Winter Conference page.