How I Used Pictures To Write In The Light of What We See

Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star for the Galaxy Ball, 1929 Photographer: Cecil Beaton. This is an important image in the book and I had a print of it sitting on my desk while I wrote.
Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star for the Galaxy Ball, 1929 Photographer: Cecil Beaton.
This is an important image in the book and I had a print of it sitting on my desk while I wrote.

When I’m writing I like to collect images which ‘feel’ like my book. In the past, I’ve even made paper-and-glue collages, with small objects and found ephemera stuck into the mix.

Visual details and setting are very important to me, but the first draft tends to arrive in the form of characters talking. In The Light of What We See was no exception, so I used an inspiration board of digital images to help me. The board (like the book) includes ghost birds, the beautiful Gower peninsula in South Wales, Brighton, nurses, and the Royal Sussex Hospital.

In the early stages, I use pictures of people as ‘placeholders’ for the characters. They don’t necessarily look the same as the character, but they evoke a feeling or attitude which helps me to write them. Pretty quickly, I get to know them through the story and they take on a life of their own. Evie and Geraint look (and feel) completely different in my mind, now, but the inspiration board was a massive help in the beginning.

Unusually, I didn’t use images for either Mina or Grace (the main characters) as they arrived so fully-formed and definite that I didn’t need them.

As this book is half-set in 1938, I did a fair amount of research. The pictures serve as shorthand reminders for that research or, again, just to set a certain mood in my mind before writing a scene.

I have collected quite a few of the images I used onto a Pinterest board if you are interested.

Out on Friday - meep!
Out on Friday – meep!

Also, don’t forget to enter your email address here to be in with a chance of winning book swag on Friday!

I will pick three names at random from my mailing list on Friday afternoon.

Also, Lake Union are running a GoodReads giveaway which ends on Friday. Head here for your chance to win one of twenty paperbacks.

One thought on “How I Used Pictures To Write In The Light of What We See

  • 1st April 2016 at 4:34 pm
    Permalink

    I have a pinterest board too for my novel, it’s a great way to see your characters come to life. I could spend hours on it. Love your boards x

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *