Thank you for using these Amazon Affiliate links to support our reading.

Visualising A Story Through Collage with Alison Stuart

We have Australian author Alison Stuart with some advice today...

VISUALISING A STORY THROUGH COLLAGE


I first heard of "collaging" a story some years ago when a workshop at a Romance Writers of Australia Conference was held on the subject. Unfortunately I didn't attend it but I did see the participants, clutching their "collages" (which I am ashamed to say looked to me at the time like something my son would have brought home from kinder) and flushed with excitement as they left the room.


"Collaging"?


I recall, with something of a shudder, art classes at school where you had to stick bits and pieces cut from magazines on to paper and make some kind of artistic masterpiece. I am a Capricorn and a Lawyer, I don't do "artistic masterpieces" - I do well ordered, neat and logical masterpieces. I really didn't think collaging was for me.


Jenny Crusie is an exponent of Collaging but like me was slow to realise its potential, particularly in the pre-writing phase. (For Jenny's journey to collaging read her blog post)


However as you learn the craft of writing you become open to new ways of doing things and playing with the imagination. Until I started writing GATHER THE BONES, I'd never been one for visual stimuli but there is definitely something about the hand/eye/brain connection, which is why some people still prefer to write their stories in long hand. As I can no longer read my own writing that is probably not a great option these days.


That is until I discovered Springpad. There are so many great options for writers now (I haven't even begun to expound on my adoration for Scrivener).  With Springpad I discovered not only a great way to store my online resource but I could actually convert that on to a virtual "cork board" and create a "virtual collage".


https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F-AAnojBk_ZlI%2FUFkXU5YZrfI%2FAAAAAAAAAwQ%2Fs_eR5KzvIKY%2Fs400%2FWhisperers%2BBoard.JPG&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*
Springpad collage for GATHER THE BONES

 



It's not much to look at (I did explain about the whole Capricorn/lawyer thing... ). Amazingly, even though I was well into the story by then, it really helped with some of the finer plot detailing. I found pictures of 1920s tennis parties and WW1 hospitals in old churches. What you won't see there are "pictures" of my hero and heroine. I still like to live with them in my imagination. (BTW you can store all your online research in your Scrivener file but the Springpad "board" is fantastic place to see it all in one shot).


As for sticking actual pictures from magazines on to pieces of paper, I was still sceptical until I got to try it myself  on a Writers Retreat with my own writing group, the wonderful Saturday Ladies Bridge Club (yes there is a good reason for the name and no, it has nothing to do with cards).


I looked at my blank piece of paper and the piles of magazines and my mind went blank as the Capricorn/lawyer/pantser combo muscled its way to the front of my consciousness. What was I even going to collage about and then it struck me. I had a new story tugging at my sleeve so I picked up the scissors and glue and began to leaf through the magazines. Firstly story was a Regency and there was nothing regency about any of the magazines but amazingly words and images began to leap out at me.


At the end of the session I sat back and looked at my piece of paper. It was no artistic masterpiece but, by jiminy, it looked like the bones of a story.  And here it is. Hopefully it won't mean anything to anybody except me but let me just say LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is coming out in May with Escape Publishing.


https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-pKKztv5cwfE%2FUFkaZVBT15I%2FAAAAAAAAAww%2FgRqt8vyTAy4%2Fs320%2FCollage.jpg&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*



I am a "pantser" (although I prefer the term "organic writer") and I was surprised at how going through the collaging exercise really helped me with the setting/characters and basic plot. It's certainly not the whole story but as a kick start to the creative process it has been invaluable and I would highly recommend it as a precursor to writing. All you need is a sheet of paper, some old magazines, some felt pens, glue and scissors. Lock the "editor" away and allow the "girls in the basement" out and you should have a fun AND productive couple of hours.


My new book, CLAIMING THE REBEL’S HEART,  has just been released and is for sale on Amazon and all good e-retailers.

War divides families…love unites hearts…


Herefordshire, England 1643


As the English Civil War divides England and tears families apart, Kinton Lacey castle is one of the brave few loyal to the roundhead cause.


With her father away, Deliverance Felton will do whatever it takes to defend her family home against the royalist forces ranged against it. She can shoot and wield a sword as well as any man and anything she needs to know about siege warfare she has learned from a book...but no book can prepare her for what is to come.


Captain Luke Collyer, soldier of fortune and a man with his own reasons for loyalty to the parliamentary cause, is sent to relieve the castle. Everything he knows about siege warfare in general and women in particular he has learned from experience, but when it comes to Deliverance Felton has he met his match?


Deliverance will not give up her command lightly and Luke will have to face a challenge to his authority as fierce as the cavalier foe outside the walls. He will do whatever it takes to win Deliverance’s trust but will he run the risk of losing his own, well guarded, heart?


Connect with Alison




Twitter:  @AlisonStuart14


22 comments:

  1. That is a good way to go, allows on to see things all set in a row

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It works really well if you are a visual person!

      Delete
  2. I love both Springpad and Scrivener for displaying pictures (collage) to inspire a story and remember details of hair coloring and clothing etc.
    My Pinterest pins feed into Springpad and my Rebel Mouse magazine so I have an even larger avenue for inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Suzi... I think you must be ultimate visual person!

      Delete
  3. I love the idea of using collages to visual stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you haven't tried it give it a go! The trick is just to let your mind relax...and let your imagination take you away.

      Delete
  4. I love using Pinterest for this kind of thing--and it can be fun to share with fans that way, too :) I also love the organic writer term--much better than panster!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't really got into Pinterest... not for lack of interest but more for lack of time and I also worry a bit about copyright infringement so my boards tend to be private!

      Delete
  5. I have been an organic writer although that is changing and evolving the more I write. (First heard that description at the RWNZ conference last year and much prefer it too.) I am quite visual and Pinterest fulfils my needs for a story board so well. I love it! In the end, it is whatever combination works for each writer. Love your post, Alison.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The other term coined by Jo Beverley is "Flimmer" (from Flying into the mist). I hate "pantser" because it sounds very hit and miss whereas organic has some structure to it! Thanks for visiting Susanne.

      Delete
  6. Great idea. The pics can get you in the period too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! The one thing I can't do is pictures of the hero and heroine... I like to keep them in my mind's eye and allow the reader to put whatever features they like on them.

      Delete
  7. I had never heard of collaging. It probably works really well for visual people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And of course, not everybody is visual! You do what works for you.

      Delete
  8. I have never done collaging for a story, but it does sound like an interesting technique. I am a visual person- so I think this could be a good thing for me to try. Thanks for sharing and wishing Alison the best of luck!
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jess. Collaging is more a technique for just freeing up the imagination. Great for "writers block"!

      Delete
  9. Organic writer is much better than panster!! Yay!! Your collage looks fabulous!

    Good for Deliverance too - Luke's got one fiesty fight in his hands there! Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kitty. They were a fun pair to write about!

      Delete
  10. "Organic writer" -- agreed, much better; hairy armpits and all. As a very visual person, I like the idea of collage-ing. Don't know if I'd have time for it, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've done it with my Writer's Group as a regular exercise. It doesn't take long but it does require a little organisation. If you are involved in a writers group why not give it a try one meeting. It is quite a fun group activity until someone pinches the picture you had your eye on... LOL

      Delete
  11. Thank you everyone who stopped by and left a comment. It's not for everyone and probably best done, as I do it, as a group activity with other writers and a couple of glasses of wine!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great post Alison! I love Scrivener too :-)
    Funny, I thought you were going to talk about Pinterest - but Springpad sounds a lot more organised and personal, I like it!
    I had no idea J Crusie was into collaging too. Thanks for the link!

    ReplyDelete

Join the discussion. What do you think?