Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Her novels range from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com
No, this isn't a post about ways to waste time when we should be writing. Although... ;-) Nor is it one on social media and how to use it to market. I do realize, of course, that Pinterest can be used both as a time-waster (ahem) and as a social media site.
I, however, want to talk about how to use it as a tool.
When Pinterest first took off, Stephanie sent me a link to some of her boards. I thought they were cool, but I didn't quite get the whole "I could spend hours browsing Pinterest" thing. Of course, that was before I discovered their historical fashion boards, I admit it.
Not long after this intro to Pinterest, in which I dutifully signed up, I got a contract for a historical trilogy. And as I was doing my research, suddenly it hit me: this is where Pinterest really shines for a writer! And then, glory of glories, my publisher sent me a cover questionnaire to fill out, and it really started to shine. I sent them a link to my board--and heard back that they were going to ask everyone to do these, since it made it so easy on the designer.
So now Pinterest boards are a part of my process for every book I write. And I'm always finding new ways to make them effective...without giving away the story or confusing followers of my boards.
Shh...It's a Secret!
I don't always make my boards secret when I begin them. But if it's for a story that is still in its beginning phases and hasn't been pitched to anyone yet, I just might. I'm not exactly paranoid about people stealing my ideas...but I'm a little protective of sharing some of my best ones before I have any nibbles from publishers or the thumbs-up from my agent.
So right now, I have a secret board going. That's a safe way to start, if you're not ready to make your idea public. You can always add your critique partners or best friends as contributors, so they can see it too, and ask them questions like "Which one of these guys looks like Locryn to you?"
During this phase, you can pin anything. Ideas. Brainstorming. Any image that inspires you, as well as those that fit in the categories coming below. In some of my earlier boards, I still have multiple pins for different actors that could suit my characters...these days, I would have those on the board when it's still secret, but before I turn it public, I would delete extraneous ones. These boards can be your visual bulletin board, your inspiration, and since the photos link to the websites where you find them, they can also be a way to organize that research.
But a word of caution--before you make them public, make sure you've transferred or deleted any pins that will ruin your story for readers. So that means none of this:
I know most any writer on Pinterest already knows this one. =) Need to know what your hero, heroine, their families and friends look like? Pinterest is a great place to store all those photos of actors, models, or random people who appear on the web and make you go, "That's him! That's Jack!"
But when the time comes for cover questionnaires from publishers or designers, those images can do a lot more than inspire you. They can give them the visuals they need in model selection, and even beyond that.
Most recently, I sent this image to Bethany House from my board for The Reluctant Duchess.
My editor replied that she just adored the expression on Emma's face here, and she would pass that along to the photographer.
I wish I could share the result, but it's still under wraps--let's just say that they posed the model at the same angle, and her expression captures that gentle, hesitant look PERFECTLY. I'm totally in love with the cover, largely because they found a model whose looks and facial expression matched this image so very well!
On the flip side, I've had other covers, and my friends have too, where the photographer/designer focus on the wrong image or part of the image, to the author's way of thinking. So be careful in the photos you pass along--you never can be sure which ones will get their imaginations going, and it's not always the ones you want them to note!
|What, you don't wear a model boat in your hair? Well I don't know why not...|
I'm a historical writer, so this is HUGE for me. But even if you write contemporary, science fiction, or fantasy, posting any images you find for the fashion your characters prefer is extremely helpful for designers.
Pinterest itself has unplumbed depths that you can search and repin, but I often visit Google Images too, to find that perfect red dress from 1912, or that cowgirl-meets-beach-bum style for my contemporary heroine (okay, so I don't actually have a cowgirl beach bum...). I realize not everyone is fashion-minded, but the things our characters put on usually play a part in the story, and taking ten minutes to provide some visuals can not only help you when you need to go back and describe that coat again, it can also be a lot of fun for your readers.
Last year I hosted a Facebook party where I had all my guests post images they found that I could then pin to my board. It gained them entries into a contest to celebrate the release of one of my books, while simultaneous building my Pinterest board for my next one--it was so much fun! And I still have readers who will recommend pins to me when they see something that reminds them of that party.
I love that Pinterest now offers maps, but even before they did, I made it a habit to pin images from the places that play key roles in my books. I like to find houses that resemble the ones my characters live in, largely so that I have something to look at when I need to describe bits and pieces of them. Thus far no houses have appeared on my covers, but they definitely appear within the pages!
So for instance, an inn from a contemporary...
And a manor house that I totally need to spend a weekend writing in to fully grasp its beauty, right? Right?? For my current WIP...
In addition to houses, I search for images from the surrounding area/countryside. If I'm not super-well acquainted with the setting (which I'm usually not--I've never been to most of the places in my books), these images again help me in my description.
For instance, the Cotswolds.
Can I get a blissful sigh?? I can't tell you how many times I tab over to a page like this just so I can have an image to help me find those perfect words for the style of architecture or color of green of the grass in the spring.
A horse? A car? An airplane? A shuttlecraft?
Whatever mode of transportation you employ in your stories, it might have to be described too, and having an image on Pinterest can be your starting place for those descriptions.
For my current series, it's jewelry. There is jewelry in each and every book that plays a vital role in the story, so naturally I think it's great fun to find images getting as close as I can to how I describe the jewelry in the story.
For Dina Sleiman, it was her heroine's weapons. For a colonial writer, it might be the butter churn. For a spy, it could be that page of code. For steampunk, a cool teapot with gears and wheels.
Whatever your story, it's filled with things. Things that are important to the character. That aid her on her journey. That get in his way. These things have a valid spot on your Pinterest boards too! I daresay any board for Katniss Everdeen should have her bow, right? Captain America needs his shield.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of ways to utilize Pinterest as a writing tool, but it's the basics. What other fun ways have you found to utilize it as a tool without letting it go into the distraction category?