You’ll likely know Pinterest as a mood-boarding site, where users pin photos of fun craft activities to do, pretty cakes to bake, gorgeous clothes to wear, or lovely interiors to be inspired by, on a collection of boards that they can view and share online.
The concept of mood-boarding isn’t new, but Pinterest has managed to turn this activity into something everyone can enjoy at the touch of a button.
There are so many ways you can use Pinterest to help you in every day life: if you’re learning a language you can create a board to collect notes on vocabulary and sentence structure; if you’re becoming vegan, you might want to collect a board of vegan recipes to try; maybe you’re redesigning your room, so you create a colour scheme and an online shopping collection of things you’d like to decorate it with.
The possibilities are endless, and if you’re a writer there are many other ways you can use Pinterest to help you as you write your novel.
Here are four things I’ve tried that have helped me with my story writing:
1. World building
I recently wrote a short fantasy story where the world as my characters knew it was ‘broken’, where the laws of physics as we know them in the real world didn’t exist. For my characters, this was just a fact of life, which meant it needed to be a fact of life for me too.
However, as it’s not a world I have ever experienced living in, I needed a bit of help when it came to immersing myself in this world. So I collected images that seemed to fit that theme, either real images of odd places that exist on earth, or digitally rendered art of places that ignore the laws of physics; I even sketched a few things that I had in mind.
And I put them all on a Pinterest board (deliberately omitting my terrible sketches):
It was a little fantastical, but the imagery really helped me immerse myself in the ‘broken world’ nature of the story I was writing. Scrolling through this board that essentially was a collection of screenshots of what my characters call home really helped me see the world as they experience it. I found that writing about this world subsequently seemed to flow much more naturally than if I had written them with only some vague images in my head.
Let’s say you wanted to write a story about the Garden of Eden. You’d probably post images of gorgeous greenery, perhaps a fruit-bearing tree to represent the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that Adam and Eve eat from, maybe images of any animals that would be in the garden. Perhaps in your version there’ll be statues, and lakes and rivers.
Whatever imagery you can think of that strongly relates to your characters’ world, include it! Even if you know your world pretty well, it always helps to flick back to your mood-board whenever you feel a little stuck.
2. Character profiling
I once made a Pinterest board for a character whose head I just couldn’t get into.
Let’s call him Tom. Tom was more of a secondary character, so admittedly he was a little less fleshed out than my other characters, but he was still an overall difficult character to understand. Which says a lot considering I created him. So I started a Pinterest board for him.
At first I started with something I did know about him: his looks. Blond hair, slim build. Simple enough.
Then I started adding things as they came to me. I figured out what he wore: usually all black attire, and he often wore band tees, bands such as He Is Legend, Avatar, Slipknot, Megadeth. So I gathered he liked rock music.
Then things started to click a little more. A lot of gothic themed images started to appear on his page, and it told me that he really liked gothic fashion. Even though he mostly wore band tees, he hesitated to dress in that way because the characters he hung out with (the ones I knew well) didn’t dress like that. So he wanted to fit in, but not necessarily hide what he liked; despite his hard-to-read exterior, he actually cared a lot about what people thought of him.
It essentially became a board that Tom would make if he had Pinterest. The above image is just a small screenshot, but Tom’s board ended up being quite extensive, and by the end of it I understood his character a lot better. I found a lot out about him, like how he hides a lot of his interests so he feels like he fits in a little better, the fact that he’s always disliked his natural blond hair because it just didn’t fit with the image he liked, and also his endearing, yet top secret love for black kittens.
There’s so much you can include to help you get into your character’s head: facial features, hair, body type, taste in clothes, hobbies, secret obsessions… Anything you can think of about your character, add it to the mood-board! Having a visual representation of them to associate in your head whenever you write about them, helps to solidify your character’s believability as you build them into words on paper.
Much like how you can peruse someone’s social media and get an idea of who they are as a person, building a mood-board for your character will help you understand them better as you view it. I really recommend doing this!
When sorting out scenes for a film, artists will create storyboards by doodling how they envision separate scenes and pinning them up on a board to reorder and rejig them.
And you can use Pinterest in this way to visualise the scenes of your story.
If you like to doodle elements of your scenes, this is a great way to put them in front of you and see how they look in order, and move them around if they don’t quite look right. And if you don’t doodle them but like to write notes on post-its, then you can also use this method! I have a mixture of doodles and scribbled notes on my current storyboard.
As an example, here’s one I made for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:
It’s fairly straightforward: just a few images of the main scenes with short captions to describe what we’re seeing.
Having tried it myself with my current work in progress, my tips would be to make sure your images are all a similar height to width ratio. In this Adam and Eve example, I have a variety of tall images and wide images, so I’ve compensated by adding a white ‘filler’ image under the wide images so that it makes it easier to view in order. But it’s all up to you!
You can click and drag your scenes until you’re happy with the way they’ve been ordered, and you can also duplicate your board and experiment with different orders and adding or deleting scenes here or there.
It really helps if you find you need to fill out your plot a bit more, as you’re able to see in front of you when your story might be lacking in action, or if there’s a plothole you hadn’t spotted when planning beforehand.
4. Find more writing tips
When I first started getting back into writing regularly, one of the first things I did was search ‘writing’ in Pinterest! I don’t know why, perhaps I was looking for some tips, or some kind of useful articles to read that would help me improve, but I wasn’t disappointed with the results.
There is a gold mine of in-depth articles, useful infographics and simple tips waiting to be seen and pinned!
It’s actually what inspired me to start my own blog: I learned so much through these pins that I became more confident in my own writing and wanted to share my own thoughts and tips.
I’ve discovered so many blogs through this too, what’s more, Pinterest sees my interactions and recommends more for me every time I log in.
So there we have it: four ways you can use Pinterest to help you write your novel!
I hope this post has been helpful! I have a board dedicated to articles and tips by other bloggers and writers that I’ve found helpful in my own writing, so if you have an account check it out my Writing board here.
Do you use Pinterest to help you write? If so, what else do you use it for? And if not, what helps you envision your story?