Friday, June 15, 2012

Pictorial View of Every New Story

I don't like first drafts. I can see a story all played out in my head, but to get it from my head onto the paper/computer is an effort. I have to pry it out, bit by bit, as if using those nut picks used to pry nut meats from a shell. Pictures help.

I think I have mentioned before that I am a very visual person. That is why my website is graphics-heavy--I love the look of the Regency. So when I'm writing a book I use visual aids. As I begin that dreaded first draft, I start a collage on a large sheet of bristol board. On it, I put pictures of everything that evokes the story I have in my mind: people who remind me of characters, places that match my location, details like china and furniture, paintings that evoke the setting, and perhaps a map of the town or county.

When I began The Earl's Peculiar Burden, I started my collage with the Red Tower.
This tower is in Estonia, but I could see an ancestor of the earl bringing back the idea of the conical, red-tiled roof, perhaps from Spain. The tower on the cover for my book doesn't reflect the tower I had in mind, but the cover is so atmospheric that I've left the reader to construct their own vision.

Then on my collage I included the look of Ysmay's 1237 castle and her small world.
The drawing above from David Macauley's book Castles shows how I imagined Kenning Castle with its village, on the left, at the foot of the rise. And below is an illustration that helped me visualize how the castle yard looked in 1813.
In my imagination the Red Tower is on the left, the Great Hall of my story is in the centre, and in the empty space in front of that would be the new building, called Kenning Old Manor.

When I started looking for character pictures, I found this lady with her harp. Ysmay plays the harp. This picture went on my collage.

Then I found a picture of Ysmay's harp--the one below is dated about 1400 and resides in the Museum of Wartburg Castle in Germany. I did a typical fiction author thing, and hoped that such a harp might be found in 1237.

When Ysmay rushes into the tower she is of course in medieval dress; I needed to see that.
 My hero seemed to be epitomized by the gentleman in the blue coat in the Brock illustration below.
So all these images ended up in my collage. Every time I started to work on today's release, The Earl's Peculiar Burden, I would set the collage on my desk and examine it for several minutes, willing myself into Ysmay and Garret's world.

Thank you all for your visits, your comments, and your retweets for the contest draw. The winner of the PDF of The Earl's Peculiar Burden and a package of Regency treats is Mel K.! I'll be in touch...

'Til next time,


1 comment:

Meljprincess said...

Thank you again, Lesley-Anne!
My mom is an artist and she has put together some great collages. I'd love to see yours. I'll bet they are brill too!
Brock's illustrations are wonderful. And I love the red, conical roof. It reminds me of my trip to the Shetlands. I wish we had more European
Architecture here in the states. It's so beautiful. Have you been to Estonia?

Mel K.