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5 Ways a Writer can use Pinterest

November 13th, 2012 Matt
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Pinterest might not be the first choice of social network for writers, but with a little thought, there are certainly ways it can be useful – for research, a way to communicate with readers, and as a promotional tool.

I first started using Pinterest to gather articles together on boards as a way of replacing my beloved (and now axed) Delicious Stacks. But it didn’t work, because the blog articles I was sharing simply didn’t have the visual content to make them pop on a board.

Since then I have not posted much, but I do post a lot elsewhere and some of those articles are visual, so I am trying to rewire my brain to think visual = Pinterest, and share there too.

how writers can use pinterest

A Picture paints A Thousand Words

So, I’ve been racking my brains (I have multiple brains, though most are for decorative purposes), and I reckon I’ve come up with some great ways writers can utilise this medium.

  1. Research for your story. Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way. You can use a pinboard to collect research. This will be a visual collection of things to keep in mind when writing, rather than in-depth topics.

    Some examples, then:

    • People – images of actual living people you think represent your characters well. You might think your lead is a cross between Brad Pitt and Clint Eastwood, for example.

      Not only does this give you key features to pick out in descriptions, it can act as shorthand for thinking about the way they move or talk when you’re writing.

      Alternatively you might be thinking of actors who you’d like to actually play your character in the inevitable film adaptation. Maybe, I dunno… Brad Pitt, or Clint Eastwood.

    • Places – these might be places like the locations featured in your story, or images of the actual place if you’re writing about real stuff. Don’t restrict yourself to grabbing images from articles, but try Flickr and Picassa for images from people who have been there.
    • Things – objects that feature heavily in your story. This might be something small and apparently innocent that you want to get the details right on, or things like vehicles (what kind of car does your protagonist drive?) or guns (lots of stories have guns, right? or swords – swords are cool).
    • Atmosphere – sometimes we’re trying to capture a mood. A mood board is often used in design to pick complementary and evocative colours, so this could be a whole board in itself.

      Think of the kind of mood you’re creating with your story, or the scene you’re focussing on. What colours do you want to evoke? What about scenes? Fog, moonlight, rain, a sunrise or sunset – all can create strong emotional overtones you might want to focus on before you plunge into your wordsmithery.

    Something else to consider here – if you make this inboard public, you might want to be careful about how much you give away. Especially when you’re writing a sequel, even revealing a location can speak volumes to fans. You may want this. You may not.

  2. Cover designs. Something I am definitely starting soon. Personally, I’ll be making two or three pinboards containing cover designs, or striking images I think would make good cover designs.

    This is partly for inspiration – new ideas for stories. But primarily, as someone who intends to indie publish, these will help me to learn what makes a great cover. Covers are so important, and often something indie’s get accused of glossing over.

    A bunch of sci fi book pinboards

    A bunch of sci fi book pinboards

    And when you’re experimenting with actually creating a cover? Well you can make a inboard with all of your designs on. You can even ask people to weigh in on what they think is the most compelling design! Market research, people!

  3. Illustrations. On a similar theme, if your book contains illustrations, you might want tot make a pinboard of them. These might be works in progress, or the finished images. It’s another way of presenting an enticing preview to your book.

    Two things though – again, beware of giving too many spoilers, or at least flag the inboard with a warning. Also, as with book covers, if you’re not doing the artwork yourself (I’m thinking in particular of when publishers have hired someone to do the work) make sure you have permission to show them to everyone.

  4. Promotion. Most of these are promotion of a sort really, but I’m not strictly talking about using the inboard for promotion – more as a way of documenting your promotion.

    This would be like a behind the scenes look at your promotional efforts for your book. Say you go on a book tour, or visit a convention for your genre – take photos and blog and tweet about it, and put those photos on your board.

    Maybe you went on a radio show – take a picture of you with the DJ (and your book of course).

    What about promotional material like posters, flyers, or your business card? Put it all up.

  5. An author’s life. Speaking of behind the scenes, there are more day-to-day aspects of your writing career that can be documented.

    Don’t forget people are really interested in the process, even if they don’t intend to write themselves, and believe it or not, people are interested in you, the author. So create a board that shows some of the things you get up to in your writing life.

    Like what? Okay, here’s a few ideas…

    • The view from the window in your writing room
    • Your writing room itself! Or wherever it is you write. People always want to know this for some reason
    • Your bookshelf – it’s like they’re spying on your inspirations
    • A particularly nice sunrise on your morning clear-head-before-writing walk
    • Your real-life pinboard, full of stickies plotting your next masterpiece
    • A page from your first draft manuscript, complete with a pen-full of red ink
    • Cuts! A to of writers (me included) keep our cuts in separate files in case we need to refer to them later. One of these might make an interesting pic or two
    • Events – “I spilt coffee on my manuscript – DISASTER!” “Went to get a snack – cat fell asleep on my laptop!” (the internet loves cats!)
Cat on a laptop

“It is warm here. Move me, and I kill you.” Image courtesy of Justin Dolske on Flickr

So there you have it! Pinterest has at least five interesting uses for authors.

I mentioned I will be starting boards for book covers. in fact, I have already begun! Here is my Pinboard for sci-fi covers. t the time of writing, it needs some work.

But for now…

Over to you:
What do you use interest for? Anything writer-specific? Feel free to share links to your boards below – I am genuinely curious!

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