I promise, this is the last time I will shove my sweet “book banner” down your throat. Ok, maybe not the last time but it will become less infrequent. I only want to use it as an example in this post about stirring up the creative mind and setting your mood right in your head and in your novel.
As I started to heavily consider moving on to this stand-alone novel idea, I had to get into the story. I am a very visual person and so seeing photos of what I am imagining in my head really gets my creative juices pumping. Upon fleshing out the ideas past the basic skeleton of a story, I usually need photos to help me make the characters real. Most of the time, I have an actor or actress in mind …or someone famous who has the same kinds of features I imagine for my characters. Either that, or I have one feature that is pronounced that I ransack Google for, like “beautiful eyes,” “auburn hair girls,” etc. So, I could happen upon a totally random photo that fits my ideas OR makes my ideas crisper in my mind.
The crisper-in-my-mind thing is when this strategy is most useful because if your character seemed blurry to you, this can help pull them into focus and make them more real. The more real they are, the easier it is to describe them and work out how they think and react in any given situation.
Finding or creating images and collages can also help you set the mood. Sometimes you have the mood already but it is buried in your subconscious. After I had found a few photos that inspired me, I put together the book banner above and it became clear to me the mood I was circling. Dark, ominous, unstable. All of these words should be used when someone picks up my book and starts to get into the story. So I have to keep that in mind while I am writing.
(I hope by now you are not yet tired of me bringing up Maggie Stiefvater examples, and if you are, please stop here and leave me a lovely comment. If not, please continue!)
Maggie Stiefvater finds that mood is one of the most important things in the story. While writing the last book in the Mercy Falls series, Forever, she had actually submitted a final manuscript to her editors only to take it back and re-write THE WHOLE THING because she said the mood was just not right. To avoid that, always write with mood in mind …and make sure it’s the right mood for your story.
I think music can be a big catalyst for setting up mood and more as well – but I will leave that to the next blog post!
Any other thoughts on how to set the mood right or how to get inspired if you are unsure?