Pinterest is one of the most useful tools I have discovered as a writer. I am a visual and active learner so I learn best when I am able to visualize something or can repeat the action. Basically, I like something in my hands. So what does this have to do with Pinterest? How can writers use Pinterest to their advantage? Easily, Pinterest is a literary hub filled with writerly destinations, quotes and how to charts that fellow writers post to their boards.
But if you were to go to my Pinterest page, you would find my story boards.I love historical fiction and what better way to receive inspiration for scenes and characters then through old photographs? I utilize Pinterest to my advantage by creating story boards for my short stories and even have a separate board for character inspiration. So today I’ll be talking about three of the many photos I have manage to find through Pinterest that have helped me develop my current novel-in progress.
What I keep referring to as the first section of my novel takes place during the 1940s, one of my characters transported to one of the many Japanese Internment camps. Starting this novel, I had an idea of what the camps were like but could never fully grasp the emotional impact of being forced from my home in a matter of a few days for an event I had no connection to other than my race. To Pinterest! I found this image of a family waiting for the train/bus that would eventually take them to the camps. You see the adults talking in the background but the focus is on the children.
They are sandwiched between suitcases and what I’m assuming is an older brother or father. One suitcase seems to be held together with belts, something I associate with having to move in a rush and pack whatever you can grab. I love the gossiping that is surrounding them, how alienated these two boys are from the conversation, the adults trying to figure out what is going to happen while the boys are forced to wait and find out. I used this image (and several others) to help with the tone of my novel, that kind of mystery and cautious curiosity of what is about to come from the adults while the children are angry that they are being uprooted from their friends or sad that their parents are ignoring them. A confusion of emotion, notice the woman who is seemingly smiling in the background. Is she putting on a brave face or has someone off camera said something funny? As you can probably tell, I love analyzing facial expressions in photos and incorporating those expressions in my short stories. Sometimes I’ll have an entire short story dedicated to yearning, whether that be for knowledge, home or family. Others will be dedicated to happiness slowly transforming to anger and then acceptance. One will definitely focus on the building of disdain for everything my character is forced to go through all because he is perceived as an “enemy of the state.”
I love when a good theme weaves its way into a novel! I also love an excellent love story that isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I found this painting by Mark Demsteader which I have dubbed the woman in yellow. The woman in yellow will appear throughout my novel as an actual person, a symbol of the past and then as an actual painting on display. She is the haunting memory that stalks my character, one that he loves because she is the only woman he has ever loved but hates because she is a reminder of what he could never have. She is his greatest love and disappointment.
She is the image that an actual woman must live up to. An image of who she used to be before life took away the only thing she wanted, that she felt she deserved. All this from a painting. Pinterest is also a wonderful way to discover new (or old) artists that may inspire the short story you never knew was dwelling inside of you.
I’ve talked a lot about character but not how Pinterest has helped me develop them, just inspiration. Now, I’m using a Japanese model as an example because I’m not ashamed to admit that I like looking at him BUT I also love this pose. He is supporting himself with one arm while the other seems to bey laying limp in front of him (for my purposes he is holding a cigarette) He is staring into the distance, not necessarily at a specific object so for the purpose of my character I’m going to say he is lost in thought. Neither smiling or frowning, just thinking.
For character purposes, I’ve named him Matsuda, an artist-in-residence who has just found out his father his cheating on his mother. While lost in thought, he does not realize the young woman, Aziza, watching him (not in a creepy stalker way but in a walking down the hall and there’s a guy sitting alone kind of way). She peers into the room and sees him in this pose. What is he thinking? What is my character thinking seeing him this way? Can you say scene?!?!
After a rough start (Matsuda blows cigarette smoke in Aziza’s face and it just goes down hill from there) the two struggling artists fall for each other and attend an art show where the lady in yellow will be on display. Also, a bunch of other fun ideas I’m rolling around in my head but won’t reveal on here because I’m a bad person. Anyway, photographs of real people or models striking a pose always help with what I struggle with most in my writing, Logistics. I have trouble putting into words how my characters are sitting in order to portray an emotion, glossing over these descriptions instead. Seeing how someone is sitting, standing or looking into the distance gets my creative juices flowing, asking questions that will eventually draw out the descriptions I need.
Want to see more from my story board? Check it out here!
WARNING: PINTEREST IS TIME CONSUMING. IT WILL CHEW AWAY FROM YOUR WRITING TIME JUST LIKE FACEBOOK. USE WITH CAUTION.
How do you, as a writer, use Pinterest? For character inspiration? Quotes? Distraction?
Happy Pinning Everyone!
This post is in response to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.