In my Pinterest for Authors classes and lectures, I’ve been saying this for a while now: Pinterest is not a social media tool. It’s a visual search engine. Gorgeous story and mood boards have already been created for you, the author, to glean inspiration from. If you’re stuck in a creative rut, or want to flesh out a plot bunny, Pinterest can be a valuable tool. Now you just have to search wisely!
4 Ways to Visualize Your Novel Using Pinterest
When it comes to Pinterest for authors, there are plenty of ways to find inspiration.
Mood, Tone, and Themes.
Get your creative juices flowing with Pinterest, and see where your imagination takes you. Keep reading for tips and tricks about each one of these visualization tactics.
1. Character Inspiration
It often helps to have a specific face/person in mind when creating your character. I usually need a picture of my character in order to to visualize them in different situations. Their specific hairstyle, the way their eyes look when they smile—all these nuances can enrich your character action and description.
Some people do a general search on Pinterest, but I always stop by Kristen Kieffer’s amazing Pinterest account—lots of character inspiration to choose from. It’s organized by specifics, like “blonde female characters,” so you can find what you’re looking for quickly.
If I select a model or actor, I try to find a few different images of them—frowning, laughing, in different outfits, etc. I use their facial expressions to highlight character assets or flaws.
I have several shared boards with my critique partners (CPs). When we’re brainstorming together, it helps to put up images so we can both picture the setting, main characters, etc. Here’s a recent one with Tosha Sumner’s awesome novel. Do the images give you a quick sense of what it’s about? I bet so!
You can use Pinterest to look up general settings (beach, horse country, etc.) or more specific travel destinations.
Travel is one of the top ten searches on Pinterest, so definitely consider creating a board just for your setting.
It will help you connect with other aficionados of that location, and perhaps garner new fans for your books. Plus, you can use the colors and details to strengthen the setting of your novel. Here’s a general board called, “A Woodland Walk.” It has pictures of the outdoors, people exploring nature, and animals. Can’t you just smell the fresh, pine-scented air?
Besides this particular board, Pinterest user Ellytoes2 has many wonderfully themed mood boards, so be sure to check her out!
Even better? Use a Group Board for outside inspiration. I started a Group Board about Scotland, which has about 3,000 followers. Even if I don’t post up a picture, I’m continually inspired by posts that others pin to the board.
To get even more specific results, combine search terms. I typed in “Romance” and “Venice” in Pinterest, and found this wonderful board. For me, the pastel, almost watercolor-like picture it paints has an ethereal quality.
Worldbuilding for your manuscript can be easy with a Pinterest search!
Pro tip: Try not to search too specifically. Pinterest users often use fanciful descriptors for their pin and board names, so you’re better off using more generic terms.
3. Mood, Tone, and Themes
Just looking at a board of like-minded images can help you to quickly jump back into your writing. You can search very generic terms, see which images you prefer, and narrow down your focus from there.
For example, a search for “Winter” led to the Danish concept of Hygge. This made me imagine a cozy mystery plot, or a foodie/winter romance idea.
I typed in “Mermaid” and the pins that came back were green/blue/purple tones, and ranged from quotes to lipstick to bath tiles. Water references abound, as well as a definite feminine, playful slant. Picking a few of my favorite images from this search can help me visualize a new story idea.
Pro tip: Looking for inspiration for your HEA? Try kissing photos. Luckily, All The Kissing has one for that very reason!
Sometimes, quotes can help set a tone. The master is Shakespeare, of course. Hmm, I wonder where John Green got his title, The Fault in Our Stars?
One of my favorite YA novels is The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I typed the title in the search bar and found many boards dedicated to this book. This one immediately evokes the tone, setting and mood of the book for me (horse race, island life, falling in love).
Pro tip: You can use this technique for considering comp titles. See what book storyboards other fans have already made!
Looking for some skin-spiration? Author Alexis Abbot has a board just for bad-boy romance novels.
My current WIP centers around the Glasgow Exhibition of 1888. I created a board just for this event to keep my research organized.
If you specialize in a time period, you can essentially create a reference library. For example, author Lucinda Brant writes Georgian romances and mysteries. Her boards focus on general things of the time period (like medicine, fashion, crime, etc.)
Because I’m not familiar with fashion of the Victorian Era, I like to look at pictures of specific gowns. I might alter the color or button detail in my description to suit my WIP, but it’s always a great launching point to add the sort of specificity that lends color and credence to your manuscript.
I do the same with house or room layouts. I save an image of the specific layout I’m planning to use, and refer back to it often, annotating it for clarity (example: MC’s room on the right, not left)
Other items that cry for specificity include:
- Characters: hair and eye colors, clothing styles
- Setting: interior and exterior shots, style of house and/or car
- Character hobbies/trades: character at work, tools of the trade
- Accessories: Swords, jewelry, headphones, anything the character can’t live without
Pinterest for Authors
Pinterest is a great tool for authors to find inspiration. And for my final top tip? When researching on Pinterest, try to multitask. I either do it while I’m watching television or listening to an audiobook. Or if I want something very specific, I set a timer for 15–30 minutes. It’s super easy to get sucked down the Pinterest rabbit hole.
Be sure to checkout Lisa Collins’s, “Pinterest for Writers: How to Storyboard Your Novel,” follow my Nanowrimo group board (really, these tips are applicable year-round), and then start pinning away!