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:~: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 :~:

Visual Aid

I've got GREAT news--for all of us.

I'm done with my revisions on Safe In Enemy Arms! Why is that great news for you, you ask? Because you don't have to listen to me bitch about it anymore, that's why!

But, I wanted to share a technique I used during one of the many moments I found myself "stuck" in the revision process. As I've mentioned in past posts, when you've read the same 400+ page manuscript 40+ times, it's pretty tough to keep everything in sharp focus. I found this put distance between me and my characters and kept my characterization and description details flatter than I would have liked.

After trying a myriad of different techniques that worked to various degrees, I hit a particularly rough patch. In desperation, I turned to an idea that I'd been thinking of for a while, but never got around to (a.k.a. laziness). And it really brought me back into intimate connection with my story.

I'm a very visual person, and I had been collecting pictures from magazines for months with the intention of putting together what I call a visual story board for all my manuscripts. I've heard more than one writer say they see their story in their head like a movie. I do too. But sometimes those clips can get fuzzy. The visual aid of a story board helped me. Maybe it will help you when you wander through those "out of focus" moments.

I actually had another 50 pictures I could have used if I let my compulsiveness win out over my laziness...but this was a quick and dirty try at the technique.

Does anyone else use this technique? Do you have other ideas to share?



Blogger MaryF said...

I did this for my last three books. For my Nano book, I found pictures of exotic locations, and found pictures of stuff that happened in each location (like a picture of a burning car). I put each location in a different corner on the board, with my main characters prominent in the middle. For my ghost hunter book, the ghost tour goes to four houses, so I put each house in a different corner of the board. It was really nice to have visuals of the houses, too.

Congratulations on finishing!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Mary, Glad to hear I'm not the only one. I tend toward the compulsive side and was figuring everyone who knew me would chalk it up to that. :-)

I especially like having the pictures to refer to -- particularly with people. I mean, you can have basic descriptions of two people that sound the same, but one person is attractive, the other plain. How the heck do you describe the minute elements in a face to show the appealing features in a fresh, unique way?

For me, it helps to have a face to look at. I don't usually pick celebs to represent my h/h, because they typically have baggage that skews how you see them. In this example I've used Jesse Metcalf because he was the closest image to Rio I could find.

Locations are a little easier because there are so many unique elements to setting, but IMO, the photos help there, too.

Anyway, thanks for commenting.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Love your board, J. Very "visual".

I'm not really a visual person, which is why story boards don't generally work for me. I do save pictures of houses and locations and things as I find them that seem interesting. And sometimes photos really help when writing descriptions. But I've never ried a collage for a book.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

J, I do it, too, after a fashion. I keep a WIP folder for each book and in it are photos of characters, floor plans of houses, magazine layouts to give me the concept of rooms. I'm very visual, so it helps . . . a lot. :-)

4:27 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

I've never done a collage, either, but I like the idea. I sometimes keep a file with character pictures, but that's about it.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

I've never done more than keep photos either until now. But I found I liked to leave it propped up on my desk in the bedroom where I spend most of my time, so I'm always glancing at it. I noticed they became imbedded in my mind, thus familiar, the way you see the same person at the grocery store and recognize them, and when I needed to pull up images to write description, it wasn't so hard. :-)

2:30 PM  
Blogger Babe King said...

Hey, Joan, tracked you down. Yay! Glad to see you're still writing hot and suspenseful. Where are the multi-book deals, girl? What is WRONG with these people?
I haven't tried the storyboard thing, but you know, looks like a plan. Might have to give it a go.


(If you are now scratching your head and trying to think who is this crazy person, we used to crit for each other in RWC critique about 100 years ago) :-)

8:09 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Babe! I was thinking about you TODAY! I'm not shitting you! I was thinking...I wonder what she's doing. Maybe she'll want to guest blog.

Give me your scoop. You can email me at ultraswan AT hotmail DOT com.


8:30 PM  
Blogger Christine Keach said...

Hi! I landed here from Elisabeth's blog. I have a cork board above my desk and on it I tack pictures that have to do with my current WIP. When one book is done, I tuck those pics away and pull out the next set of inspirational shots. Great idea!

9:42 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Christine...Ooooooo, a cork board. I'm LOVING that idea!!! Just wait--when DH comes home from his conference I'll have cork board across the wall over my desk in the bedroom with mouthwatering men plastered over it, maybe a few sexy h/h pics together.

Hee. Very fun.

Thanks Christine!

7:21 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Hey, Christine! Great to see you here. Be sure to come back - we have some exciting things coming up starting in February.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Edie said...

I'm too short to reach a cork board above my desk. :( I don't think this would work for me. I'm like Eli. I have a fuzzy idea what it all looks like inside my head. That's too bad, because it sounds like a great idea!

12:25 PM  

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