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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Perfectly "Pinned" Novels

Hello Monkeys, Ellen here . . .  A few weeks ago, Monkey  Kristen blogged about making collages (here) and how doing so can help with the writing process. Her ideas were imaginative, creative, and very helpful. While reading Kristen’s post, fellow author and friend, Heather Petty, remarked how she uses Pinterest to do much the same. Being that I like Pinterest, I wanted to know more. 

But first, you might be wondering what’s Pinterest? Well, Pinterest is an online site where you can create “virtual” pin boards. Kind of like bulletin boards, but online.  You can categorize them with any theme you wish. I’m not going into detail about how to join or how to use the site, but if you haven’t “pinned” yet and are curious, click (here)

I’m a chart kind of person and I love to organize. I’m not obsessive about it, but I get a feeling of “calm” when things are in order. (Wish that applied to my housekeeping.) I also enjoy design and creating “artsy” things. All these are reasons I enjoy Pinterest. But the potential of Pinterest in representing your novel is endless.

Pictures are powerful. When you create a board, that’s what you’re using, pictures. So when working on a novel, there are wonderful possibilities in pinning. For example, you can make boards to help create your characters. You can have boards for settings and mood.  From these pictures, details can be gathered that perhaps you didn’t notice before, that can help with any part of your novel.

Heather Petty has a wonderful board for her novel, Reapertastic. The pictures she’s pinned spark my curiosity. I want to know more about the characters. Certain pictures are like clues, and I find myself wondering about the plot. I was so impressed with Heather's board, I asked if I might interview her. Before we begin, check out Heather’s board about her novel, Reapertastic (here)

Heather, how did you discover Pinterest? 
I’m a social media type, so I tend to check out any new type as
 it comes up. As I’m also a mom and friends with quite a few
moms, it was hard to escape Pinterest. It’s a great place to keep
track of home remedies, recipes, and home d├ęcor, all of which I’m
 really interested in.

Pinterest . . . has it helped you with your writing/story telling/organizing?
I don’t remember who I first saw using Pinterest to pin inspirations for their books, but I thought it was a genius idea. Pinterest lets me keep information on organized boards, and I can access it from anywhere. I can even take a picture of something I see out in the world and pin it to my phone.

For Research?
Because most every picture is also a link to a website, I can, for example, use a picture of boats in a harbor to link to a blog that has a bunch of pictures of a seaside village that I want to use for setting descriptions. I can use a picture of Regent’s Park to link me to a site that has a map of the park if I need to remember that path to the bandstand, or the subway stops nearby, or even a link to other sites for the park to figure out how much something costs.

For Inspiration?
I sometimes just post pictures that remind me of what my characters look like, what they wear, or remind me of scene ideas I have. One of my current projects is set in a tiny town in Oregon, so I have pictures of similar small towns that I can use to keep my mental image as I move my characters through. In another book, I have a character who wears vintage dresses, so I pinned a few that I can see her in to help me with my descriptions. But some pictures are just for a general flavor/feel/mood.  

Do you look for pins when you become stuck on a scene, some character issue, the plot?
I haven’t yet, but pinning pictures has given me ideas for scenes. For me, the board isn’t really about plot, though I SO WISH it would help me with plot. Maybe I’ll stare at it until it does!

How do you use your boards as a writing tool?
I basically use it as an inspiration board and to keep picture-based links to research ideas. Not all of the stuff I post there ends up in the book, but it helps me craft the overall feel and to remember random ideas I had for scenes or descriptions.

Which board do you consider a best example?
The best example is probably the Reapertastic board, because it’s the project I was working on most recently. As it’s set in England, I used the Pin Board to post pictures of villages that were like the one I was writing about, pictures of the English coast and the ocean. One of the characters wears vintage dresses a lot, so I would post pictures of the dresses I described in the book. And because the book is about Grim Reapers, there are also some pictures of that side.  

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Heather Petty. Be sure and check out more of Heather's boards representing her novels Lock N Mori, Three Moons, and A Thousand Words (here).    

                                                      And . . . Happy Pinning!



  1. EJ,
    I'd have been here sooner but I have a house guest that needed a litter box and a bit of tummy rubbing. I have only become aware of pinterest recently , seen some FB posts about it but never really explored it's uses. Thanks for writing about it and the Heather Petty love.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. And yes, keep the cat!

  2. WHEN do I get to read REAPERTASTIC?!!

    1. Sounds like a really cool book. And the pictures on Heather's board make it all the more so!

  3. I want to buy all the dresses on Heather's pintrest board. Where can I get them? ;) Honestly, I have never set foot on pintrest, but I might consider trying this sometime, if I'm really stuck keeping a certain setting in my head. Thanks Ellen & Heather!

    1. I think Liberty's story would be a good book to pin. You should try it! And yes, I agree. I want the dresses.

  4. Thanks for this great interview, Ellen and Heather! I tried Pinterest for visualizing scenes of my novel but gave up. But after seeing Heather's boards, I want to give it another try :)

    1. I looked for your boards the other day, Marilyn. I remember the one for your novel was pretty cool! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview :)

  5. Hi, Ellen! I've been afraid to get into Pinterest because I'm afraid I'll like it too much--but if it will help my writing... :) I'm going to have to give it a try! I love the possibilities--and the Petty! Thank you for the burst of inspiration, Ellen and Heather! (And KCH totally deserves an ARC of Reapertastic, H.)

    1. Thanks, Julie. I'm glad you liked the post. And yes, you should try Pinterest! Searching for pictures and pinning them is like finding a lot of little treasures.

  6. Thanks Ellen for posting. What a brilliant idea to use for manuscript development. I like to go to the movie star database to find pictures that match my characters. Now I have a great place to pin them up together! Not to mention the links to awesome websites that I have scattered on my like bar that I can now pin up all together. Thanks so much for sharing this!! Wish it wasn't a public view, though. I'm hoping to find a way for people to NOT follow me. :-)

    1. I think you can select who can see your boards, but I'm not sure how it works. And yes, Pinterest can be a wealth of information for an author. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!