A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

If you’re looking for more information and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month’s co-hosts are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, Tyrean Martinson.

This month’s (optional) question asks, “Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it, and did you finish it?”

If you’re talking about something like Tracy Chevalier’s novel Girl With A Pearl Earring, then the answer is no.

But that is not to say that I have never been inspired by photos and/or artwork that embodies whatever mood I’m trying to get across for a certain character or scene. Because I certainly have.

I like creating aesthetic boards for my projects. There’s usually one on my storyboard, plus a few on Pinterest, and I add to them any time I come across an image that strikes my fancy. Below is an older photo of the aesthetic board for my fantasy series. (It’s since been altered to make room for other things.)

But there is a piece of artwork that did help inspire certain storylines early on in Effigy’s creation. It’s called Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton. Painted in 1864, it’s said to represent a medieval Danish ballad about a pair of ill-fated lovers.

I didn’t know the backstory when I first came across the image printed on a card in a stationary store in Montréal. I was just walking by when it caught my eye. Approximately five second later, the creative juices were flowing.

The rest, as they say, is history.

I guess one never knows when or where inspiration will find us or where it will lead. Always good to be open to it, though.

Have you been inspired by artwork? Do you have a propensity for creating aesthetic boards? Addicted to Pinterest? Tell me below…

(One last thing…I ranted about calmly discussed updates in my last post, and they’re continuing to irritate me. Even though I centered all of the images used in today’s post, the whatever has decided it doesn’t care. Sigh.)

36 Commentsto A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words (An IWSG Post)

  1. That painting is compelling – I can see why it spoke to you.

    I kept getting caught up in finding pics that depicted exactly what I thought my characters, setting etc looked like. Once I shifted to focusing more on atmosphere and mood, I enjoy the process much more.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      Yes, exactly! I’d see a picture and think, “Well, that’s an awesome picture, but she’s not a redhead” or something like that. Focusing on atmosphere and mood is so much better.

  2. Oh that painting of the people on the stairs is interesting! I can see why it inspired you. I love to collect various photos that inspire me but don’t really know how to create an aesthetic board. I’m kind of pitiful that way LOL.
    I do see some characters I love on yours though. Jon & Ygritte – big sigh. <3

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      I love that picture of Jon and Ygritte. The mood, for me and my characters, is just perfect.

      My aesthetic board there was created by me taking a stack of pictures and just seeing what would fit in the space. That’s all the thought that went into it.

  3. Hey, I know I’ve seen that painting before. Looks fitting for Effigy. 🙂

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      That painting has certainly made the rounds. I’m sure I’m not the only author who’s drawn inspiration from it. Probably more like the 1,000,000th.

  4. C. Lee McKenzie says:

    That image in the turret is fascinating. What is she thinking? And what will happen next?

    As to the formatting issue–I had mine perfect until it posted today. Now it looks screwy. I hate WordPress, which is what I use now. I’m so sorry I switched from Blogger. That was easy and much faster to set up.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      I forgot that WordPress is such a formatting pain. Which is why I went over to Blogger to begin with. But this current update has made things just so much worse. It was apparently a very buggy update—I sincerely hope a fix for some of these issues is coming soon.

  5. Liz A. says:

    I have let my Pinterest go for a while now. I get in these moods where I play with it for a while, and then it goes fallow again. I’m in a fallow period.

    Several (more than ten now) years ago, I ran across an HTML tutorial in some computer class. I decided to go and do it. I learned a few skills, like what to look for when things go wonky on the blog. If things aren’t centering or are too big, I can adjust them.

    Which is why I’m going to recommend learning a little HTML. I know on Blogger we could go in and look at that, I’m assuming you can do the same on this site. Because then you could look at the code on the images and just add the command when it doesn’t work.

    I know, more work than you really want to do. I hear you. But as I tell the kiddos when then whine that keyboarding class is boring, this stuff is so useful and you’ll use it all the time.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      I had that thought…that I was actually going to have to make an effort to learn a lot more HTML in order to make this site work the way I want. And yeah, it’s definitely more work than I want to do, but want and need aren’t always the same thing.

      I really need to be in a fallow period with my Pinterest. I just spend way too much time on it some days. Most days, probably…

  6. Cool inspiration.
    There is an old house not far from me that I walked past constantly and one day I looked at it and had a little story idea hit me.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      Growing up, there was this abandoned barn near our house that we walked past every day to meet the school bus. I don’t know how that thing managed to stand for so long, but it was a huge source of inspiration for younger writer-me. 🙂

  7. J E Oneil says:

    I like your aesthetic board! I never get good ideas from things I see, though. I’m weird that way.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      It’s certainly not weird. We are all delightful individuals who develop ideas in individual ways. There’s no wrong way to go about that. 🙂

  8. Chrys Fey says:

    I like the story behind the artwork that inspired storylines in Effigy. The artwork sort of reminds me of a scene in a project I started a while ago, but the guy is a warrior, not a knight.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      My male leads are warriors, too, but not knights.

      And when I found out the story behind the artwork, I was, like, “Damn, that’s now even more perfect!”

  9. That is a cool picture and with lots of possibilities.

  10. Nice! I really like those pictures on the board.

  11. Jemi Fraser says:

    I wish I was more of a visual writer – it’s difficult for me to connect those visuals. BUT those visuals that inspire emotion definitely work for me – and that painting (or is it a picture of a sculpture???) speaks volumes!

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      It is a painting. I marvel at the detail in it. And not just because I can’t even draw a stick figure. 🙂

  12. Never been an aesthetics board or Pinterest type of person, but I am inspired by music. I typically make playlists to write by.

    Those are some pretty evocative images though, I can see how they can get the creative juices flowing.

  13. Pinterest is a black hole for me. I use it a lot looking for references for digital painting, and I just get stuck scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and… you get the idea.

    Sorry to hear you’re struggling with your site. I have WordPress too, and I have to get around to doing a reinstall to see if it fixes my broken email problem. (I’m not getting emails when someone posts or uses my contact form.)

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      Pinterest is a black hole for me, too. I can spend so much time on there. I start off looking at armor or something somewhat story-related, then two hours later, I’m looking at recipes for food I would never make in a million years. So yeah. I hear you. 🙂

      I knew how to do everything (or most everything) on this site before the update. Now everything’s different, nothing works the way it used to work, and I’m starting all over again. I want to see if there’s a way I can walk back the update because I’m just not happy right now and have very little patience for figuring it out.

  14. Murees Dupé says:

    I understand why this image would inspire you. Its always crappy to figure things out. Bet you’ll fix the issues soon. You’re savvy like that

  15. Glad you saw the card. Did you buy it?
    Sorry I’m late – forgot you have a new site.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      I forget I have a new site, too. Which bodes well for it, I think.

      And yes, I did buy the card. It’s been on my desk ever since. Best $4.50 (Canadian) I ever spent.

  16. tara tyler says:

    updates suck! it’s techies who can’t just relax and let the world enjoy their creation, they have to keep working on it and “improving” it—like writers who continuously see flaws and edit their work when it’s perfectly fine to be published!

    and that’s a great image, i totally see it

    thanks for all your help and support, woman!

  17. I can see why that picture would catch your eye and stir your imagination! And, I love your story board. I need to work on one of those.

  18. On this Valentine’s week, I raise a virtual toast to all the ill-fated lovers out there. And there seem to be a lot. But that’s a neat picture nonetheless.

  19. Ooh, that’s such an evocative piece of art. I can see how it would inspire you!

    And that’s so cool how you put together aesthetic boards for your projects! Love getting a glimpse of one of ’em in this post. (SO PRETTY.) I wish I had visuals like to keep me motivated, but alas, I’m too lazy, LOL.

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