Writing is all about imagination, and as writers it’s amazing what we can build out of a small, initial idea. And readers are imaginative too, which is why the whole process of reading/writing is so enjoyable. However, it’s still important to provide realistic descriptions, to help immerse the reader in the moment.
I’ve spoken before about the importance of visiting the location where your novel or story is set. This way you get to really experience all 5 senses, and take note of the things you see, smell, hear, touch and taste. However, sometimes it’s just not possible to visit that place. Maybe it’s too far away, you don’t have time or the money, or simply because the place is fictional and doesn’t exist. As such, I’ve listed a few ways you can use the wonders of the internet, to inspire your mind and help you out if you’ve got writers block, or are in a writing slump.
Picturing a place from memory is good, but often brings only the bigger picture. Looking at a photograph of a place/setting allows you to seek out the smaller details, to really add an authenticity to your description. It doesn’t have to be a large landscape, like a beach or a forest. It could be a coffee shop, a room in a house, the contents of a drawer or cupboard. And if you’re writing about a fictional place you can choose photos of places/settings that you drew inspiration from when building your world.
Videos can be used for the same purpose as the above, but with two added benefits; movement and sound. Watching the comings and goings of a place offer even more insight than a photograph, and background noise is important too. What can you hear, besides the obvious? The distant rumble of a train, the chirps of bird song, sirens, music?
If it’s just sound you want to focus on, try listening to audio clips instead. Many websites offer background sounds and ambience for a variety of settings and situations. It’s a great way to give prominence to noises, and to close your eyes and let the sounds tell you a story. Incorporating them into your writing adds a great depth, that will have your readers living alongside your characters.
There are so many incredible artists sharing their work online. Art is a great way to view concepts of things that don’t exist, and therefore can’t be captured by a photo. Concepts such as unique characters, designs on mythical creatures/myths, or visions of the future. If you’re writing fantasy, or Sci-Fi in particular, this can really inspire you. There’s no harm in appreciating somebody else’s imagination in order to ignite your own.
What online resources do you use to deepen your settings? Share yours in the comments below.