Readers often ask authors where they get their inspiration from. For me, characters often spark my imagination and then I build a story around them. I find these characters in the strangest of places: an avatar in a game I’m playing, an image I see on Pinterest or just a random idea that pops into my head.
The first thing I do after a story idea starts taking shape is hop onto Pinterest and find pictures of the characters and the places in my story. I always, always have an inspiration board perched precariously over my desk while I’m writing. I have trouble focussing on physical features, so it’s incredibly handy to have an image I can refer to. Description of any kind is not naturally my strong point, so whenever I get stuck, I like to look at a real-world picture of someone or somewhere and then modify it to suit my story’s vision.
The board also helps as a reminder whenever I’m in the room to stop procrastinating and sit down and write! And whenever I look at it, whether I’m busy doing my taxes or scrolling through Facebook, the pictures on display keep the current story in the back of my head, letting my subconscious work on it when I’m not actively able to do so.
This is what the inspiration board for my short story, Spirit Caller, looked like:
It’s a little sparse, but I think you get the general idea. If you’ve read the story, I think you’ll probably know who’s who on there, even if you didn’t picture them exactly like that in your mind. That’s okay. I much prefer to give one or two defining characteristics and then let readers come up with their own images. It’s more fun for everyone involved that way. The pictures on the board are merely my way of putting shape to the people who live in my head (that sounds like I should consider making an appointment with a psychiatrist… Moving swiftly along…).
Do you enjoy these behind-the-scenes details of stories you’ve read? Would you be interested in seeing the inspiration boards for other stories, or does it spoil the vision you have in your head? Do you have inspiration boards too?