Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Need help visualizing your story? 8 tips to kickstart your imagination

Searching for the right words?

Writers have good imaginations, but sometimes we need help visualizing details if we've never been there or done that. Here's a few tips which can help you take it up a notch as a writer creating fictionalized reality.

  1. Give your stories interesting settings. Think outside the box. Take your readers places they'd probably never get a chance to see. Imagine for a moment that your Protagonist and Antagonist meet unexpectedly at the World Egg Throwing Contest. Who knows where that could lead? Need a whole slew of odd events? Try 
  2. Is your antagonist a car thief? You don't have to go out and steal a car anymore to make it real. Most of you know you can learn how to steal one on YouTube, but maybe not like this. 
  3. A great boost for describing places you haven't been to can be found on Virtual Tourist. Photos and user reviews give you first person descriptions of their experience. No one will know you haven't been there.
  4. My favorite site for settings is Panoramic Earth which is an amazing tool that gives you 360 degree up-close views of thousands of places, including people who happen to be present at the time. I have a character who works at the British Museum and I was able to get a real sense of his daily environment by using this tool. It is highly searchable and maneuverable, as opposed to Google streets views can be good, but often seem to have a mind of their own.
  5. How do you visualize your characters? There are lots of lists that help you create their personality, but can you see them? Here's a site that lets you choose facial profiles in a drawing format. Nicer than it sounds,  you don't end up with a Zwinky cartoon. There's another site which allows you to make alterations to facial photos called Face of the Future.
  6. Have you thought about what your Protagonist wears? Is there one item you can dress them in that helps create an instant impression in your readers mind? Something distinctive that identifies him. Most of my characters wear cat fur, but one of my human characters is a natty dresser, who spends his entire paycheck just to make a good impression. He always wears a full length Harris Tweed coat, but I actually like this sporty one better.
  7. Don't forget the audio aspect of your story? Give your writing an extra boost by including more auditory senses. Is it the 4th of July and you need to describe fireworks? Need a barn owl sound? Got a scene that could use a little extra drama with some thunder and lightning? Listen to these and more at:
  8. But my favorite place for great images is Flickr. Your search on Flickr will yield high quality photos that beat a Google image search all to pieces. I always link back to the image if I use it in my blog or FB page. But another way to use it is by creating a collection of pictures that evoke the people, places and moods in your book. For an example, here's my Flickr folder I created for Guardian Cats.
What tools do you use to boost your writing?