The other day, I was channel surfing. Flicking from program to program with nothing particular in mind, I came across a rerun of an old show called Ray Bradbury Theater. I’m a fantasy and SciFi fan, so I stopped to see what was on tap. Catching it in the middle of opening credits, I saw Ray Bradbury himself sitting at a writing desk while his voiceover introduced the episode.
The camera moved through his office, showing what I thought was a surprising amount of clutter. I’d even say the room was littered. It could’ve been an opening for an episode of Hoarders! The detritus confused me until I realized Bradbury was surveying his collection of stuff, looking for something to spark a story idea. Ah! Now, that I understood.
Story ideas can be elusive. Even inspiration for small bits of a tale can be hard to nail down. Before Covid-19 trapped me here in my home, I’d been looking at a possible trip abroad. I hadn’t booked anything, thank goodness! Anyway, after feeding myself a steady diet of images with quaint hotels in idyllic surroundings, I naturally reached to that reservoir for one of the settings in my current book project. My location – beautiful little hotel in a charming French village – is completely fictional. Still, all the photographs I pined at wistfully in January of 2020 fed my imagination such that I can picture my own creation clearly. And, yes, I want to take that trip even more now!
I understand some authors create Pinterest boards to help give them a creative boost. From character stand-ins to setting approximations, I can see how a peek now and then at an inspiration gallery would be helpful. I tried to pull one together offline since I’m not a denizen of Pinterest. Unfortunately, I didn’t run across the idea until I was already well in and had a firm idea of what all the main characters look like. So, I found it hard to gather pictures that approximate what I see in my mind’s eye. I went ahead and put the gallery together, but I don’t look at it very often. It’s my fault for not thinking of it earlier. I know it’s a good idea and will try using it on future projects. Or maybe I just have to learn to be less picky with my stand-in images. I mean, inspiration is the jumping off point not the end result, right?
I’d be interested in hearing if you use visual cues as inspiration in your own writing. Do you create Pinterest boards or put pictures up on your bulletin board for your projects? Have you found a book idea or story element through visual cues in the world around you like Ray Bradbury?
Ray Bradbury Theater
Examples of Pinterest Boards for Inspiration and Marketing by Romance Author A.S. Green
Oh yeah. When travelling was still legal, I used to take photos of run-down parts of cities as inspiration for my cyberpunk cityscapes. I also look up a bunch of people on Google to better describe my characters. Anyway, thanks for this post!