Rachel's chatting today about something I LOVE the idea of but have never actually managed to embrace properly so I'm hoping for some tips.
Over to you Rach...
Inviting your right brain out to play
Popular psychology has a theory that our left brains are the place where most logical thinking happens, where we do our arithmetic, store the grammar rules and generally be rational. The theory goes on to say that our right brains are where our creativity resides, our imagination and intuition, and where we synthesise things.
You may already have a good relationship with your right brain, but my left brain usually jumps in before my right brain gets a chance to say much. So when I’m plotting a story, I have a couple of techniques I use to coax my right brain into playing with us.
One of those is collage.
You’ve probably read about collages and writing before – there are some great articles on the web, such as this one http://www.jennycrusie.com/for-writers/essays/picture-this-collage-as-prewriting-and-inspiration/ by Jennifer Crusie, so my post today is more about how collages work for me.
Sometimes when I’m rushing to plot a book, I consider skipping this step, but things always go easier for me later with the story when I’ve taken the time.
I generally start by flipping through magazines. There’s a stack in my office cupboard kept for just this purpose. I’m looking for the obvious: someone who might look like my hero or heroine (I also browse the internet for these) and settings that might occur in the book. But I’m also looking for anything that may *feel* right. It might be a bottle of red wine, or a posy of wildflowers, or a word, or a blue background. After a while the random images start to form a pattern. Or not. But, put with the things my left brain chooses, they always add up to an overview of the feeling of the story.
Then I’ll go to a craft store / craft section of a department store and scour for anything that feels right on their shelves. For a future book I’m planning I bought silver and purple felt stick on butterflies. They’re so pretty, and although I don’t think there are any butterflies in the story (or maybe there will be?) it’s probably going to be a metaphor for my heroine’s journey. Sometimes an image or an object I find will start my brain thinking about a whole new thread to the story – those moments are gold.
The background to the collage is important to me too. For Million-Dollar Amnesia Scandal, I stuck pieces of red and brown paper in a chequered pattern before adding on the pictures on top – the colours felt right. For What Happens in Charleston… I used thick black cardboard and sprayed it with gold hairspray to give it a glitter effect. (Probably my favourite collage background so far!)
The act of creating the collage is really useful to me in getting the plot together in my head and finding threads and aspects to the story I otherwise may have missed. But that’s only one purpose.
After I’ve finished a collage, I hang it above my computer while I write the book and it becomes an ongoing inspiration. When I first sit down in the mornings, I look up at the collage and fall into the story again – especially important if I’ve just been working on edits for another story and need to ‘feel’ this one again.
Also, when I have those moments where I wonder about what comes next, instead of gazing out the window (which would be sure to distract me), I gaze at the collage. Looking at the picture I’ve chosen for him pasted beside the picture of the heroine surrounded by all the colours and metaphors for their journey, I can almost hear them talking (or not talking as the case may be) and I know where the story needs to go. It’s like the collage becomes my muse.
Everyone’s brain works differently, so using collages may not help you at all – it might just waste your time – but it might be worth a try in case it does add something to your plotting experience!
So tell me, have you ever used a collage when writing? Was it useful or just a waste of time? I’d love to hear about your experiences!
(By the way, I haven’t posted any photos of my collages here because I’m sure they’d have images that are copyright to the photographer and I need to respect that.)
WOW Rachel, some of those collages sound AMAZING!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your collaging process with us Rachel. Do be sure to share your collage-ing experiences as Rachel said :)
Rachel's latest book is WHAT HAPPENS IN CHARLESTON (don't ya just love that title?)
Here's the blurb:
Money has always given Matthew Kincaid whatever he wanted. Yet now his son needs something even his millions can't buy. The widower's sole recourse is the surrogate who gave birth to his child - for she is also the boy's true biological mother.
Susannah Parrish needs no prodding to offer her assistance - a child's life is at stake. But to their mutual surprise, the minute she's back in Charleston and residing in Matthew's home, passion consumes them. Is this a relationship doomed by deception? Or is it the one chance at a love they both secretly crave?
You can find Rachel at her website, on Twitter and on Facebook (go ahead, like her. You know you want to :)).