How I Beat My Struggle with Settings

I keep two files of art. Well, I keep more than two, but two specifically related to my novels: Characters and Settings. (Each project also has it’s own specific folder of inspiration.) My Settings file is particularly useful, because I struggle.

I could write dialogue all day. In fact, that’s almost always how I start — with two people talking. Sometimes where they are while they talk is necessitated by the story, but often the exact location is not; it just has to be somewhere that makes sense. And when it comes time to think of someplace interesting to put them, and to describe it, I get frustrated.

Enter my Settings file. It doesn’t always help, but often it does, although often only indirectly. For example, today I was perusing images and I came across the picture with all the cages below, and my mind immediately went to “pet store,” even though that’s not really what’s depicted. I further refined that to exotic pet store, which actually really works for a variety of plot-based reasons.

And from there, things just took off. For example, I immediately pictured emperor scorpions and a large anaconda named Larry in a glass case — so-named because of Leisure Suit Larry, the old adult computer game — and so on.

I started collecting images randomly about two years ago, and there’s close to 300 unused pictures and photos in the file (and growing). I say unused because each project I start has it’s own file of art and inspiration. There’s no organization. It’s just all thrown together. I even have a couple files for projects I haven’t started but am contemplating for the future. And my “rule” is — barring exceptional circumstances — each image is only attached to one project.

Here are some random additions to the collection:


3 thoughts on “How I Beat My Struggle with Settings

  1. I find your process interesting. I may have said this before but I’ll say it again, “I wish I could have that certain creative imagination that is not tied to realism, but is free to roam corners of the mind I have shut for some reason”.
    I struggle with dialogue. Images help little my own process for developing a story. I find desired outcome, story endings, to be my trigger. But, and this is a big important but, images are crucial to finding words to describe settings and settings fall last in my process. Aside from being a horrible procrastinator, I know my process is not conducive to fast development or editing.
    On the other hand, images are the most important thing when I write my crude poems; images and feelings, both are part one one, even with just one good eye. I’ll keep sending you pix of doors, doorways and such if you still collect those (or if you don’t already have all of them yet 🙂 ).

    Liked by 1 person

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