Friday, July 10, 2015


Caitlin here. One of my favorite novel writing tasks (or, perhaps, procrastinating tasks) is looking online for images to help inspire and drive my process. I try to have a few images, which I usually find on Istock, of actual people who are close to how I “see” each prominent character. These images aren’t just for coloring and facial features, because the best pictures show the model doing something and/or having an expression that resonates with the character. 

I’m less into looking up images for my settings but, as I’m writing my first fantasy in a new world that isn’t too dissimilar from our own, I’m starting to find myself seeking out images in order to craft the cities and other places that will flesh out my world. 

How do you use images as part of your process? Where are the best sources for images?

Dan: I like having visuals to help plan things, and to keep me motivated while writing that first draft. For my most recent writing project, I created this Pinterest board to collect images from Google Image Search, DeviantArt, Wikipedia, and other places.

I also keep world maps and/or landscape images in view while I'm writing. I import them into Scrivener, and display them in the top panel (while I write in the bottom panel). The map is not only a time-honored tradition for fantasy writers, but actually quite useful in reminding me where my characters are and what's around them.

Lisa: I'm not a visual person. Images tend to mess up the idea I have of my characters in my head. So, it's more about a feeling to me. What feels right. That's why I'm not too fond of covers with faces. I skirt around that by only having partial faces on my covers, or else faces with the picture altered so much that the faces are obscure. For both MOMENTS and TRICOLOR covers, I just wanted get the point across that there's a boy and a girl. That's it. As far as setting, I do visit my locations, but it's not so that I can "see" my setting so much as to treat my other senses. I need to hear the sounds, experience the pace of the town, and feel the tone - try to put my finger on the pulse of the community, what's important to them, their activities/festivals, what they hold sacred.

If I were writing a fantasy, I'd consider creating the setting in the "image" of a town that would work for my plot. Say you're writing a steampunk. St. Augustine, Florida would be a great town to mimic your steam punk town. It's dark, steamy/humid, the body count from violent deaths is high, so it even has the haunting/dreadful feel to it at night.

Karlie: I tend to use Pinterest a lot here - it's amazing what you can find. I created one entirely for Kismet and another for Forsaken, collecting little things like tavern stools and larger ones like setting. It really helps me to immerse myself in the mood of the place I'm writing - so I use images a lot. Every now and then I'll use one for a character visual - but like you, Lisa, I'd rather keep them in my mind. :) Great post, Caitlin!

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