It’s been a few days into the Get Your Words Out 2021 Challenge and things are going well. I don’t feel the intense pressure of word counts, so I’m glad I chose the Habit Pledge instead. Though sign ups are done for this year, It’s worth a look to see what’s entailed in such a challenge. You can then decide if you want to partake next year. Meanwhile, feel free to do a variation of the challenge right along with us!
I’ve been continuing my dabblydoo with the planning software called Plottr, the software created by writers for writers. I think I need to do more than take it for a test drive before I can do an in-depth review, so stay turned for that in a later post. So far, I’ve found that it’s a robust program that can help you visually plan your stories more efficiently. Now, of course, most of it is visual in the strictest sense, but with the use of timelines and the ability to track subplots and every character’s journey throughout the story, you literally cannot miss a beat, because you’ll see everything laid out in front of you. More on that later.
What I did want to talk about today was the use of photos in story creation. As a visual learner and writer, I find that the ideas flow more readily when I have a face to go with a name or a visual representation of a place in which my characters live and explore.
I’ve gone through my WIPs and have created character sheets with corresponding pictures to help bring the characters to life. To do this, I’ve done a deep dive into the the interwebs to look up actor photoshoots, magazine spreads, or even more helpful, actual stills from television and film that show them in similar attire to what inspired the character I’ve created. In addition to the people in my “neighborhood,” there are a plethora of photographs, artistic renderings, and stills that capture the places I’ve visualized for my stories.
I’ve created folders on my desktop to organize these visuals. I have a folder called Story Settings that contain anything from landscapes, cityscapes, post-apocalyptic suburbia, ethereal forest dwellings, to mysterious and ominous castles. My Character folder has a slew of subfolders with some of my favorite faces from the big and small screen already attributed to characters for the different books and genres I’ve got brewing. Included therein are unique animal pics that go well with the Middle Grade Adventure that involves talking animals, because why not?
In recent years, I have made a conscious effort to do some recasting. I’ve mentioned in previous posts the lack of diversity in books, TV, and film I had growing up, so it’s my chance to be proactive in my writing. I do believe that a character’s ethnicity is secondary to the story. If cultural references are necessary to the plot, then I want to make sure those are woven in organically so that nothing seems forced upon the reader. And if such references are merely part of their routine, I have that earmarked as well to smoothly incorporate details where needed. To that end, having a visual of what these characters look like somehow switches on something as I write and things they would do in their daily life seem to reveal themselves more naturally.
Another way pictures have proved useful are as writing prompts. Whether it was an actor in a known moment from their show or film, to a visual that might set the scene in a chapter, these pictures are the spark that can ignite a very fruitful writing session.
How are things going on your side of the screen? Do you use actor photos as character inspiration? Do you have favorite websites where you curate the most beautiful landscapes to represent the world where your characters live and breathe? We’re lucky to be in such an evolving technological era that allows us to be everywhere and with everyone in an instant. That fact alone is truly inspiring.
Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.
Until next time,