Monday, 29 October 2012

Collage - to make your writing come alive!

Whoops! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted here – where did the time go? I’ll tell you where it went; it was swallowed up in the black hole that is a publishing deadline. The horrible irony is, I’ve been too busy writing to write my blog about writing! But I’m back now and I’ve got loads of fun writing exercises and tips for you. Including, today, how making a collage can be the perfect preparation for your story, novel or poem.

But first, let me offer a grovelling explanation for my long absence...

This year I found myself in the massively lucky position of having not one, but two books to finish for publication next year. As someone who once wondered if I’d ever have a book deal again I was totally grateful to be faced with this mammoth workload (and I’m living proof that you should never, ever give up on your writing dreams!) but it’s been a tough old slog. And sometimes, when you’re writing a novel, or two, you just have to get into the zone and focus solely on the work in progress.

But I’m chuffed to be able to tell you that both books are now finished. Finding Cherokee Brown will be out in March 2013 and Shipwrecked will be out in June.

Shipwrecked is a top secret project I’ve been working on for the past year. It’s been top secret because a TV series is being developed alongside the books. This is the first time my publisher, Egmont, have embarked upon a project like this – normally a TV adaptation would take place after the book has been published and completely separately – so I feel honoured to be the writer chosen for the job.

As Shipwrecked is a series, I’ve just started work on the second book – I know, no rest for the wicked! – and I’ll be honest with you, when I first sat down to write it I felt a little overwhelmed.

Do you ever feel like that when you start writing something new? Like the story seems so frickin’ huge you just don’t know where to begin? Or maybe the setting and characters haven’t quite come alive in your head yet so when you try to capture them on the page they seem stilted and two dimensional?

This is exactly how I was feeling the other day – and then I remembered the one fail-safe, fool-proof exercise guaranteed to bring your story to life before you even start writing it making a story collage.

A story collage is pretty much what it says on the tin – a collage, made up of pictures of characters, settings, and any other images that symbolise what you want to write about. It’s a lot of fun to create and, as you get busy attacking stacks of magazines with your scissors, or printing pics from the net, you’d be amazed at how many extra ideas you start getting for your story too.

When I sat down to make my collage for Shipwrecked 2 the first thing I did was look for pictures of my new characters. As soon as I had these I found they gave me endless clues and ideas for the characters’ back-stories. Then I had fun searching through the travel sections of newspapers for suitably tropical pics – and found one photo in particular that gave me tons of ideas for the plot. Within an hour I’d gone from complete overwhelm to can’t-wait-to-get-writing.

My collage starts taking shape...

The photo above is of the start of my collage - it will get a lot bigger as and when I find inspirational pics. I’ve stuck it on my cupboard door so that I’m facing it when I write. That way I feel fully immersed in the world of the characters and location.

I seriously can’t recommend this exercise enough, and would love to hear how you get on if you try it too.

Till next time,

happy writing!

Siobhan x


  1. Well welcome back! It's good to see you didn't abondon us.
    Since you have been gone, my aversion to writing has slowly changed. In fact I've decided to (attempt to) write a book. I really haven't a clue where to begin as I only have a vague idea of my plot and characters.
    Hopefully this collage inspiration will work
    Marian :D x

  2. Thank you - and I would never abandon you! And well done on deciding to write a book - I hope the collage works for you - I find that pictures REALLY help me when I only have a vague idea of characters and plot. And it's a really fun way of seeing the world of your book start to take shape. Do let me know how you get on... Siobhan x