Thursday, 17 January 2013

How Photography Can Help Your Writing

Dear Writer,

It is a truth universally acknowledged that unimaginative writing = sucky writing.

And nowhere does this apply more than when it comes to description. Check out the following examples:

‘It was as black as night’

'His heart pounded like a drum'

‘Her eyes were as blue as the sky’

Yawn. Yawn, Yawn,

But how can you get your description to stand out and remain imprinted upon your reader’s mind long after they have put your writing down?

The answer, or one answer at least, is PHOTOGRAPHY.

A few years ago I wrote a novel set in Hammersmith, London. As this was an area I wasn’t all that familiar with I decided to go there and take some photos. I ended up spending hours pounding the streets, looking for the kind of buildings my characters would live and work in, the cafes and bars they would drink in and the places they would shop. It was a lot of fun and hugely productive. I came home feeling like I knew a whole lot more about my characters and their world, without even writing a single word.

When I did get down to the writing of the novel I made a collage from the photos, which I put up over my desk. Whenever I got to a piece of description I would study the relevant photo, looking for any unusual details that would help bring my writing to life.

Using photography to complement your writing soon becomes a virtuous circle: the more you train your eye to look for an interesting or thought-provoking picture, the more you train your writing mind to focus on the unusual and imaginative.

So, your mission this week, should you choose to accept it, is to take yourself out with your camera and seek out some killer shots to help enhance your writing. They could be photos that are in some way linked to your work in progress, or you could use them as starting points for brand new pieces of work.

If aliens have abducted your camera / phone and you aren’t able to get out there and take any photos of your own I’ve included some pictures I’ve taken while I’ve been out and about in London the past couple of days. I hope they help and, if you do end up using one of them as a writing prompt I would love to see the results so please do email them to me.

Till next time,

Happy writing and happy snapping!

Siobhan x

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