Pictures… And Less Than 1000 words


Are you a visualiser or a words person?

I’m not really thinking here about the pure differences between left and right brain thinking – that’s waaaayy too scientific for me. Although, it is true that a person who is primarily a visual thinker can have difficulty in putting their thoughts down into words—Einstein, for example. Did you know he said “The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanisms of thought. The physical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be voluntarily combined.”  I love it that one of the most intelligent men on the planet had this little wrinkle in the way he thought. And that when he did use words, he used *hard* ones.

I was thinking more about how much writers also need images and visions to help them write. Or, at least, I do.

Before I start writing anything, as I’m researching it—researching steampunk, or sports in Victorian London, or interferomatic dispersion (yup, seriously)—I search for images too. Sometimes I’m looking for people who can stand in for my heroes, for Flynn or Bennet and Ned or Rafe, and whose faces will often be in my mind as I write. Often, too. it’s peripheral images: clothing, spaceships, steampunky coffee machines, weapons…


Bennet (L) and Flynn(R), in case you’re wondering.

That’s where Pinterest comes in. I know I groaned and grumbled at first at the thought of yet another social networking site to suck up my time, but Pinterest has been incredibly useful for inspiration, story-boarding and storing research results. No longer do I have to print out loads of pictures and stick them in a folder. These days it’s there, ready, at the click of a button.

I have a personal board set up for the things that are nothing to do with my writing. But my writing boards are a treasure trove of things relating to the Taking Shield series or The Gilded Scarab. Everything from how a gentleman tied his puttees, to a hand drawn sketch of the layout of the hangars and launch bays for the Gyrfalcon. Each book has a board dedicated to it on my account but, you know, the books will be of limited interest to the average Pinterest user. They might be looking for them, or they may just stumble over them when they’re looking for other things. So the trick is to have lots of boards that are the attractors for Pinterest users yet still related to the books. Pinterest users may find my boards because they’re looking for images of coffee machines or Victorian ladies clothing or steampunk guns, but when they land on my page, there’s the boards of the books, too. You never know. They may take a look at those too.

It can’t stand alone as a way of reaching a new audience, but it can certainly help you both organise your thinking/planning/researching phase and send a few new people your way. I thoroughly recommend it.

Of course, you have to have a will of iron not to spend hours there, looking at the pretties…

You can find my boards at Anna Butler, Pinterest by following the link.


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  1. I find this interesting, because though I consider myself a visual person, I have no strong desire to spend a lot of time on primarily visual sites like Pinterest or Tumblr. I’ll fiddle around with a site like that for a little while every couple of months–and then put it completely out of mind. And yet I think in terms of scenes, I love finding the words that evoke what I’m seeing in my head… odd that. 🙂


    • I genuinely think I’m both. When I was writing fanfic, the first steps were to find a title and create an image/banner for my website. Once that was done, I could start to write. The title was always as important as the image.

      I’m being more disciplined about Pinterest – don’t like Tumblr much, I must say. The enforced absence from the ‘net after we moved, and I was unpacking and sorting out the new house, seems to have broken the bad habit.


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