Monday, May 05, 2008

A Story in Pictures

Posted by Lisa Marnell

Perhaps I was inspired by the Muse & the Marketplace conference last weekend. Maybe it was the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) summer conference flyer that came in the mail, but when I sat down to write early Saturday morning, I couldn't. I did something better.

I am not a visual person, not really. I'm the person who can tell you every song that has been playing on the overhead speakers in a store for the previous twenty minutes. I listen well. I don't need a picture.

However, this Saturday, I searched images online. I looked through photographs from my dad's old place in New Hampshire. For my YA story to come to life, I needed to see the place I was writing about. How could I write about December in fictional Sugarton, New Hampshire, with now-drying Southern California mountains watching me from my window. And the birds! They were lovely, yes, but quite the distraction. So, I searched for photos that would bring me to my protagonist's world. Take a look at my album: photos taped on the wall above my laptop now.

The bowling alley where I first saw Rose, the real Rose, a girl with stringy hair and not enough change for a Coca Cola.

The house Rose returns to after her hospitalization. This is the start of my novel, and this picture helps me visualize Rose's home. It's dark. It's dreary. Her house is actually half this size. It's not somewhere she wants to be. I found this photo on Google images.

This is the storm that arrives the night that Rose walks to her friend Ava's house.

Here's the ski hill where, well, you'll have to buy the book. And I have to finish writing it.


Anonymous said...

This is great! Thanks for this post. I wrote one short story that I had no trouble visualizing because I'd been to the place so often. But then another, which is set in a town I don't frequent, I'm having trouble with. The house keeps turning into my own. It's like I have to draw my own floor plan to keep it from becoming nonfiction. In the other story, I'd passed by a small bungalow so many times that I didn't need to know what it looked like inside. I just needed that outside--nestled among white pines, dusted with needles, the weathered clapboards, the green trim. It was all there.

And the season. Yes. The first story is set in August because that's when I started writing it, so it was all so fresh--the cicadas, the mosquitoes!, the sweat! Hard to conjure that up in dreary Jan.-April!

Larramie said...

Visualizing is one thing, but seeing is believing isn't it, Lisa?

Therese said...

Excellent and inspiring.

I WILL have to buy the book!

Sustenance Scout said...

Lisa, a terrific idea that reminds me of Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance. She suggests creating an album of things you consider beautiful, especially those you desire, so you can more effectively work toward them. K.

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