Typically, a vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life. But a vision board can also be used a little bit differently as a writer’s tool.
I often create a vision board with images of the characters, settings, and other elements I wish to create in a new book or story. I’m a very visual person, and seeing my characters and settings in pictures helps me write about them in greater detail so I’m able to more fully bring them to life for my readers.
Before I start writing a new novel, I create a chapter by chapter outline of the plot. As I’m creating this outline, I learn who my characters will be and where the action will take place (the setting). As I’m working on the outline, I also leaf through magazines for pictures of people and places that look like the characters and settings I’ve envisioned in my mind for the story. I also search for pictures of other objects that might belong to my main characters – a car, for example, or a beautiful house on the beach, or a run down aparment. I cut out these magazine pictures and put them in a project folder. Once I finish my outline, I tack up these photos on the bulletin board that hangs on the wall over the computer where I write each day. Sometimes I put the pictures in some sort of order. For example, once I cut out pictures to represent each of the buildings on Main Street in the fictional town I created for a story. This way, as I was writing, I didn’t have to remember if the bakery was next to the dry cleaner’s. I just looked up at the vision board to see where everything was located.
As I write my story, I glance up at this vision board occasionally to remind myself of all that I know about my characters and the setting. When I’m writing about my main character, a look at my vision board reminds me that he drives a Mini Cooper, for example, and not just any old car.
A vision board also helps me get a “feel” for the setting I am writing about. When I write a scene that takes place on the beach, and I look up at a picture of the beach on my vision board, it’s much easier to include a variety of sensory details to describe the beach.
Creating a vision board for a novel can be both fun and productive. The trick is not to get so caught up looking for interesting pictures that you never get the novel written!