Many years ago when I was working on my manuscript I would find photos that inspired me and faithfully save them on my computer. Accessing them later was always a hassle, the photos would all be strange sizes and could be hard to see, and sometimes I’d forget why I saved a particular photo. Then of course there was the space that this ate on my hard drive.
Fast forward some ten years later and I now use Pinterest where I create a secret board while I’m working on my novel. I usually always start with a photo for my hero and heroine.
My current novel Hollywood Dreams is about a woman who falls for a lovely, regular guy. They date, fall in love, and but he is hiding a deep, dark secret. Turns out he’s not a lovely, regular guy. He is instead a movie star who is in character as a method actor. Now he has to get the woman he loves to fall in love with the real him, and so the fun begins.
The inspiration for my hero Tom Calvert is Chris Pine.
This is the photo that inspired Beau Tennant, Tom’s character part.
And Jacqueline Bissett was the inspiration for my heroine Maree Reynard.
I’ve found that when I’m working on my manuscript the best way to write truly descriptive passages is to be able to visualise what I’m writing about and capture the unique detail to bring that to light.
While the setting is in a sense another secondary character of my novel, descriptions should never be about stopping the action for a sight-seeing tour, instead the setting should be used to get across a sense of emotion and move the story forward.
Maree is the daughter of two soap actors and has spent most of her life on a studio lot, first as a child when her father took her in to work with him and later as an adult when she works as a costume designer. So the studio lot is her home away from her home.
“With its mix of tin sheds and large buildings, the studio lot might look intimidating to most people, but to Maree it was almost as familiar as the palm of her hand.”
Sometimes I search for a particular image to set my scene. For example this photo inspired the setting for Maree and Tom’s first date. Tom is waiting for Maree to arrive and feeling self conscious and the setting acts to soothe his anxiety.
“The restaurant was an outdoor patio with a huge ancient tree in the centre, its gnarled branches curving into the sky and over the heads of the diners. Lit by candles, there was an intimate ambience and Tom felt his discomfort fading.”
Then there is this scene when Tom and Maree have to go to a cabin that acts as a sanctuary for them and their relationship.
“As Carter parked, Maree leaned forward to look out the window. The log cabin was on a slope, nestled among pine trees, their scent bringing to mind Christmas. As they walked up the porch stairs she turned and surveyed the view. They were halfway up a hill, and Lake Arrowhead stretched before her with white-capped mountains behind it.”
So as a writer don’t forget to use the setting to the best of your ability to create a sense of mood and atmosphere. Use visuals to develop evocative descriptions and practice weaving them into your manuscript.
And if you’re a reader don’t forget to check out my Pinterest board for Hollywood Dreams to see some more visuals to compliment the book.
This post was previously published by Penny Dreadful Book Reviews.
Author of Return to Me, Hollywood Dreams and Vintage Dreams. Short story is published in the anthology Little Raven Two by Little Raven Publishing.
Mae Archer's books on Goodreads
Return to Me
ratings: 13 (avg rating 3.46)
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)
Little Raven Two: An Erotic Collection
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.00)