Homework: Find 5 additional images for your image [file]. These can be postcards, pictures clipped from magazines or even images you captured with a camera or sketchbook. The important thing is that all five images help us find a character.
Are there any artists or photographers you recommend who are especially good at capturing such images? Any must-haves I should add to my image file?
When I write, I use images to help me describe something, typically a setting. For example, for AIWD, my characters traveled all over the place. I’d never been to New York, or the Elvis Museum in Tennessee, or to Riverwalk in San Antonio, or even to Greece where my MC took his love for her birthday. What helped me to describe these places were photos.
And not just your standard marketing collateral– actual photos taken by real people. Sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon help with developing atmosphere for a restaurant. Trip Advisor and Expedia, etc, help me meld together descriptions of great hotels. Blogs where people have posted photos of events they’ve attended and cities in which they live help to give me a realistic vantage point. I’m also not above using Google to locate an address and letting Google Earth show me what it looks like RIGHT NOW. I’ve done this a lot for the road trip chapters I’ve written. How will I know if I-10 has 3 lanes or six if I don’t look it up?
As far as using images for characters, I sort of already have an idea in mind when I start writing. I’ve rarely used a photo to develop a character and most of my stories spring from song lyrics and not art. I do remember, however, writing a particular chapter about the Degas Ballerina. I also did an exercise from Now Write! called the Photograph, in which we were to find an old photo and write a story based off of it. It turned out pretty well.
I recently wrote a story about a homeless man. There were tons of images that tugged at my heartstrings to help me bring out the emotion of what it felt like to be helpless and alone with nowhere to go. I read a lot of stories and a few books to help me realize the magnitude of what my female MC was offering to him… a chance to get off the streets and restart his life.
So, that’s how it works for me. I get the idea first and use photos and descriptions to help shape the level of detail that I use in the piece.