Monday, April 30, 2012

Photographic Inspiration

One of the lakes at Glendalough Ireland
In my writing group, one of my buddies asked me how I'm able to create such vivid descriptions. This kinda flummoxed me for awhile because I hadn't really thought about where I got my vision. But when I really thought about it, I realized it was mostly because of the photos I'd seen when I did my research.

Lough Key Forest Park, Ireland
The chapter my friend was inquiring about takes place in one of Ireland's forests. As I looked for locations on the internet, there were several things I was looking for. Particularly, the location needed to be somewhere near Belfast or Dublin and had to have a forest, a creek, and a woodland bridge.

As I researched the various forests of Northern Ireland, I came across a place I fell in love with called Glendalough Abbey. The medieval abbey, with its accompanying graveyard, captured my inspiration and I jumped on the location.

Location for Chapter One's final battle.
Two other photos added to my feeling of being there. One was of the moss and fern covered Lough Key Forest Park. I can't remember the second photos location, but it was also located in Ireland. This photo brought home the the fight scene at the end of the chapter.

How did I develop this pattern of inspiration?

I think it all goes back to a writing exercise in my Mountain Crest High School creative writing class. Our inspirational teacher had us pick a picture (photo or artwork) and write a one-two page story based on that picture. I picked a painting of some men on a ship in the fog. An old sailing ship particularly.

My Antagonist Inspiration
As I looked at it, I began wondering what the sailors were thinking. Was the man in front the captain? Was the hunched man behind him the first mate? My thoughts ran wild and I quickly had my inspiration.

Years later, I've found this 'trick' continued to work wonders for me. I've used it to see locations of my story in Google Maps. I've used it to get the flavor of characters by looking at lots of head shots. More importantly, it has allowed me to visit the world inside my own imagination.

So what way do you like to get inspiration? Do you use one method predominately or do you have a toolbox full of tricks? If you could choose your favorite method, which would it be?


  1. I never look at photos for inspiration, but I can see the benefit in doing it. That dude for Vadim is so freak'n sick!

    1. Yeah! Then you put a wicked burn scar on 1/4 of his face and I think it nails him. Looking at his pic helps when I start writing him more like a limp wristed Liberace too. ;)


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