Tuesday, July 20

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 19 comments
Revising scenes that occur on another continent in another season requires an extra dose of imagination. I'm finding that having a few helpful objects and images in my writing space can take me there--to rural northeast England in winter.

This mug is one of my favorite "take me there" objects (Dunoon Ceramics, Scotland). Can't you just hear those sheep bleating and smell the rain, the mud, the wet wool? All I have to do is sip some tea from this (coffee is just too American) and I forget all about the 95 degree heat and tank-top clad coeds outside my office window.

Do you have any special objects or images that pull your imagination into your fictional world?
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  1. Yes! I always have something like that for each book. For my latest, it was a picture of a 1954 camper trailer. (The real one wouldn't fit in my office.) ;)

  2. I love this post, Laurel. I thought I was the only one who did things like this. I had an idea for a new story last week, and the first thing I did was run out and buy a mug I'd seen that felt right.

    My first book was a Revolutionary War book and I had an old musket ball that I kept at my desk. I used it sort of like a worry bead, rubbing it between my fingers whenever I was stuck on a chapter.

    My current book has a scene on a porch that has honeysuckle growing along it. I have some honeysuckle lotion that puts me right in the book.

    It sounds nuts to write it out, but it works for me - as does my iTunes playlist.

  3. I use photos and when I can, find a nonfiction book about the area.

  4. Great idea!

    I don't have anything from Steampunk London :), so I usually just close my eyes and set the scene in my head.

  5. Yes! I wear a glass vial necklace with a message to my MC inside. It inspires my writing every time.

    Great post!

  6. That's really great!!! I don't have anything like that, but I may just have to start looking!

  7. That's really neat! The closest thing I've had to a special image is a picture of a kitten that I found on the internet. My middle grade novel is about cats, and this particular kitten looked exactly like one in my book. For a while, I had it as my desktop background to inspire me.

  8. Great mug! I don't have anything like that for my current novel. I should find something!

  9. That's a great mug. I see what you're describing.

    I've never thought of this question. There have been people whom I've seen on TV or in real life, and something about them has become a basis for specific characters. After I've written a manuscript, when I see them (on the screen or in person) I get confused because they've become my character to me.

  10. I'm very visual too. I'm building my writing space now, adding to my design wall behind my monitor and gathering objects that spark my imagination. This works much better for me than music. I know a lot of writers use music to lull them into a state of mind for a particular scene. That just doesn't work for me, and I'm left creatively distracted and frustrated until silence is restored. :)

    I love your mug!

  11. I hoard photos that inspire me, but I have never gotten around to creating that scrapbook I always meant to make for my novel.

  12. Amy: Images can be so evocative. I have bulletin boards of pictures both at my work office and home office.

    Mary C: I just love how you engage the senses of touch and smell as well as sight and sound to enter your fictional world! That's really cool.

    Holly: I did most of my setting research on site. Now I'm kicking myself that i didn't pick up any books on the place while I was there. It's a great idea.

    Jemi: There are plenty of steampunk images to be found on the web, though. Now if only we could find a way to bottle the reek of coal smoke and gaslamps--you'd be golden!

  13. Victoria: I'm curious to know if you write in third person. I write in first and have to sort of become my MC mentally and emotionally.

    Stephanie: It helps tremendously when your real environment is at odds with your fictional one.

    Shelly: images do help so much, don't they? In your case, I'd be soooo tempted to trawl animal shelters for a REAL kitten to bring home('cause they're so much fun. :-)).

    Janet: believe it or not, this was a "free box" find in my neighborhood. We have lots of huge Victorians converted to apartments, and when the 20-somethings move, they often leave stuff in the lawn marked "free." Just another way city living is the best. :-D

    Theresa: You're more restrained than I am. I've been known to mildly stalk real-life people who look just like I imagined my characters. :-D

    Nicole: You should post pictures when your board is done. I might post mine sometime. I prefer working with music on--preferably instrumental stuff or CDs I've heard dozens of times and don't feel distracted by the lyrics.

    Christine: I also have a clips file full of photos--some made it to a bulletin board. Perhaps I'll post on that sometime.

  14. Lord, I wish. I've been trying to set a book in Bolivia without much success.

    You got any Bolivian mugs?

    - Eric

  15. I collect ceramics and pottery and your mug is wonderful.

    Being extremely visual, I purposely set my first novel where I was living, so I could experience my characters' physical world whenever I needed to. Now I'm 2500 miles away and use photographs. A portion of my current WIP is set in early 1940s Lyon, France. It's proving to be an issue. I've been to France multiple times, but never to Lyon, and needless to say, never during WWII.

  16. Eric: I'm sure if you google it, you'll find some. Maybe you need a little scrap of llama fur to take you there? :-)

    VR: I like it so well, I googled this pottery company and am seriously tempted to buy some of their other designs via EBay.

    I've often wondered how one achieves immersion in a setting from the past like you're attempting. French swing records, perhaps? Old foreign films? Good luck with it!!

  17. I don't have any objects like your mug, but the idea is great. Hmm, I have a Disneyworld mug? Would that qualify? Okay, maybe not.

    Susan :)

  18. I maybe I need a stake or a blessed katana or something to pull me into my fictional world. That might help a bit. Also, they'd come in handy if I were attacked by vampires.

    There are no tank-top-clad coeds outside my window, though. I'm feeling a bit put out about that.


  19. Susan: Happy hunting! Hope you do find something inspiring.

    Simon: Methinks you need to visit this shop just off South St. called "Armed and Dangerous". Lots of urban fantasy goth items to be had there. (Believe it or not I got my "regency" looking wedding jewlry there!! *snarf*)

    Sorry about your lack of view. I'm actually ten stories up from the roaming co-eds, so it's more like tank-top clad ants. :-)