Posts Tagged ‘pictures’

Have Some Castles

Good morning, squiders! I’ve just returned from two weeks in Scotland. We had a lovely trip, and perhaps I’ll talk more about it in a bit, but it turns out when you’re out of the country for two weeks there’s a lot of catch-up that needs to be done.

However, I didn’t want to leave you with nothing, so here’s some pictures of some (not all) of the castles we went and saw while there. There’s over 1000 castles in Scotland, ranging from ruins to still-lived-in homes, which does say something about the state of the country during the medieval time period. But as someone who comes from someplace without castles, I think they’re neat, and so did the small, mobile ones.

A lot of the ruins we looked at had been destroyed (either by defenders or by attackers) during the Jacobite Revolution, which took place over the first half of the 1700s. (Carnasserie was destroyed earlier. Carnasserie was surprisingly neat though because they’ve fixed it up enough that you can climb all five stories up to the top of the castle ruins. Also it was free.)

(Eilean means island, by the by.)

Inveraray, Dunvegan, and Eilean Donan are active homes used by the Campbell, Macleod, and Macrae clans respectively. Dunvegan has been continuously lived in for 800 years, which is pretty cool (and surprisingly rare). Eilean Donan was destroyed in the early 1700s but was rebuilt in the early 1900s, which is quite a feat.

I’ve got pictures of other structures too–standing stones and circles, neolithic burial cairns, iron age forts, stuff along those lines. It is interesting, living in a place where there are seemingly people everywhere, to go some place where things have been standing for sometimes thousands of years, and people have mostly…left them alone.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the castles! Thursday we’ll start on the Master Plot summer series, so I shall see you then! (There is a small chance that all gets delayed until Friday. But it will happen this week, no worries.)

Where to Find Story Ideas: Pictures

Continuing on with our story idea theme, Squiders, today we’ll be discussing pictures. There is a reason that they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

image of sunlit door

Pictures can and often are a great way to find story ideas at any point in the process. You can use them for basically anything, from helping you flesh out the way a character or world works, to figuring out the tone or mood of a scene, to adding in a plot element you hadn’t previously thought about.

Pictures can work in two ways: enhancing what you already have, or adding in new things.

Sometimes you have a basic idea of something, like, for example, you know your story is set in a forest.  A forest is a pretty basic setting, and you may feel that as long as you have trees and flowers and your standard forest-type creatures (deer, bears, squirrels) you’re good to go.

However, there’s a big difference between this:

and this:

There’s a ton of different types of forests out there, and knowing what kind you’re using, using pictures to help you get a better idea of what you’re working, can make a world of difference in your prose.

Many authors keep story-specific inspiration boards to help them use images to enhance their stories. They often include settings, characters, objects–or maybe just abstract images that remind them of a plot point or a theme.

(You can see the boards for Shards and City of Hope and Ruin here.)

Pictures can also be helpful for adding in new elements or starting a new story. We talked about adding images to your story idea files previously, but you can also go through your file and see if any of the images you saved can fit into your current story if something is missing.

(For example, I used this image to help me flesh out one of the characters from a 2014 short story, A Bargain Beyond.)

If you can’t find anything you’ve already saved that works, you can always go looking. If you have a general idea what you’re looking for, you can also do a search on Google, Pinterest, deviantArt, or flickr. Otherwise, websites like Pinterest and deviantArt, if you’ve set up an account with them, will give you a “feed” of images, based on what’s popular and what you’ve previously shown an interest in, and sometimes scrolling through there can give you some useful images.

Got anything to add, Squiders? Your favorite use for images in writing or your favorite place to find them?

A Well of Inspiration

Every now and again, I feel a bit dried up, like I have squeezed every interesting idea from my head and that nothing more will come. I think we all feel that way sometimes, for whatever reason, whether we’ve pushed ourselves too hard or agreed to something that’s not our cup of tea. The nice thing is that it’s not so hard to search out and find a kernel, a spark, to ignite everything again.

I have two sources I turn to when I’m in need of inspiration: pictures and music.

I’ve talked about music here before, but as a quick refresher: I find music an excellent way to get the ol’ juices flowing. I choose music based on what I want to write – gothic for horror, symphonic metal for fantasy, etc. Whether it’s a lyric, a chord, whatever, I find that just putting music on in the background can often time hit the right nerve and inspire something great.

Pictures, well. I admit description is not my strongest strength, but sometimes a picture really hits the creative noggin right between the eyes. (I apologize, my metaphors are getting weirder the longer this entry goes on. I blame, uh, the tribble. Yes.) Take a look at this beauty I found earlier today: here.

My trigger pictures are almost always ruins. Probably says something about my psyche, but there’s something about an old building, partially reclaimed by nature, coated in moss and promising oh so many secrets, that makes my hair stand on end. Can’t you just see someone descending down, in search of some hidden treasure or a necessary clue?

The Fairest is a good site for trigger picture searching, if landscapes and nature do it for you. I know some people prefer portraits; you may find Portrait Photos to be more your speed.

How about you, Squiders? What helps in your dry times? Any websites to recommend?