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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

MAPPING OUT A NOVEL

When I began the second Flora Garibaldi Art History Mystery Umber Rome (coming soon, I hope), I had writer’s block. Or rather, Starting-the-Novel block. I couldn’t seem to get going.

My husband, who is a wonderful and creative supporter, came up with a solution. He built me a bulletin board just for writing (no kid photos or dentist cards allowed): a place to tack up pictures, lists, notes, etc., all about the work-in-progress. He attached the new board to the wall above the small desk where I park my laptop at night.

This is the station I use at the beginning of each day, for email and other tasks. It is a wonderful reminder of what I’m supposed to be doing—writing—and I like to think that the pictures and maps jog my brain even when I’m doing something else on the computer.



What did I put up? A large map of Rome, Italy, with major highways and surrounding towns. A smaller map of my protagonist’s neighborhood, with an “X” for where her apartment is. Pictures taken off the Internet of the major locations in Rome such as the Catacombs, where the novel takes place. Lists of Italian phrases I wanted to use, character lists, and photos of people (clothes models, politicians, ordinary Italians) who look something like my mental image of each major character. Pictures and names of Italian food and wine…you get the idea.

The new bulletin board became a visual map of where I was going with the book. I added Post-It reminders to myself, additional neighborhood maps, colorful photos of my favorite places in Italy. As a writer’s tool, it was a howling success. Did it make me finish the book any faster? Maybe not, but it helped me focus.


Now it’s high time to take down the old stuff and put up the new…

2 comments:

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Sarah,

What a wonderful, creative suggestion! I like the idea of a bulletin board for working on a novel in progress. The visual concept is very useful. I've never done one but I might try it in the future.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Brilliant idea. I've known other writers who pin up photos of their characters or landscapes or buildings that pertain to their story. Not only does it stimulate the imagination but it also helps them with their descriptions. I have a friend who writes romance with a lot of hunky cowboys in them - she always has some terrific photo taped to the side of her monitor for inspiration. Now, get busy writing! (And yes, I must also...)