Let’s be real: not every writing session is spent madly tapping the keys, scenes unfolding effortlessly as you ride the wave of inspiration into the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, writing can be a struggle sometimes and we can find ourselves stagnating when it comes to smashing out that manuscript or assignment. On the other hand, you may find yourself with a brilliant idea but you’re unsure about how to flesh it out and begin the world building process, and that’s where certain online tools and apps can come in handy. While there is a multitude of resources online to help with the writing process, I’ll be talking specifically about every DIYers dream website: Pinterest.
Usually reserved for recipes and wedding planning (guilty as charged!), Pinterest can actually be a great tool to not only categorise and sort ideas and create mood boards, but also boasts page after page of writing prompts to get your brain ticking. I never knew how many writing-related things were on Pinterest until my significant other began using it to collate ideas and concepts for a fantasy novel he was inspired to write. It is a labyrinth of concept art, character portraits, tips on how to write particular scenes and everything in between. Being able to create individual boards for each aspect keeps it organised and easy to access when it comes to writing scenes.
Here are some things to keep an eye out for to help with your writing:
1. Writing prompts
Whether you’re starting from scratch or in need of something to get you writing again, these prompts come in the form of both extensive lists and individual snapshots of a scene. They are particularly helpful when it comes to yearly writing challenges such as the 30 Stories in 30 Days (keep an eye out for it on Underground this year!) or even NaNoWriMo as it helps get you into the creative writing mindset. I’ve come across a few prompts that have ignited the spark of a story, and have gone on to write pages and pages of concepts and ideas just from one sentence! The great thing about prompts is that they are so open-ended and can be interpreted in so many ways. I also use writing prompts in my daily journaling and often my streams of consciousness elicit one or two shining nuggets of literary genius. While many of these phrases, characters and quotes will never see the light of day, it’s nice to have a vault of ideas to have handy should I ever need them.
If you’re unsure of where to start, and feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the prompts on Pinterest, check out the Underground Writers Pinterest page for some ideas.
2. Tips and Tricks
Along the same line as the lists of prompts available on Pinterest, there is also an abundance of tips and tricks ranging from genre-specific brainstorming topics, tips to create more immersive worlds and dimensional characters, as well as techniques to get the most out of plotting your story. Creating boards specific to particular genres (especially fantasy and sci-fi) is a great way to ensure there are no holes in your stories, or forgotten elements that can make or break your story. Often I read stories that feature language and characters that can be bland and cliché, and the tips I have found on Pinterest help in terms of finding language that is interesting but not too literary and difficult for people to read. Pinterest is such a vast and diverse site that you can search for almost anything and find what you are looking for. However, what I love most about it is the new content I come across each time I’m scrolling through my home page. I often find things that trigger a light-bulb moment, and having the option to save what I find has become a life saver!
3. World building
Pinterest is a treasure trove of world building resources, ranging from concept art for characters, extensive maps and sweeping landscapes that can be extremely helpful in fleshing out your story. When a story is set in a world that is somewhat unfamiliar to us, as seen in genres such as historical fiction and fantasy, it can be hard to create a world so rich in imagery that the reader gets lost in the pages. Creating Pinterest boards with concepts for your story, and categorising them effectively, means you can simply flick to your references and build your concept brick by brick. Another great resource for concept art is DeviantArt, and some artists can also be commissioned to create illustrations specific to your story. If you are seriously considering publication, this could be a viable option for you in terms of cover design or including a map at the beginning of your novel. In the planning stages of your story, Pinterest is useful in categorising these concepts, and can be honed into aspects as specific as which stained glass windows will the church have? What does the town square look like? What colour are the space suits the characters wear?
It is a great way to find niche concepts, and I have even seen illustrations that combine elements such as Star Wars and samurais, and Roman Legionaries in space.