Getting In the Mood

Candlelight and soft music? I don’t think so! Then again, if I were writing in the Romance genre perhaps those are exactly the props I’d use to get into a scene-writing mood.

When it comes to finding story ideas we all have our distinctive sources. For me, a single image repeatedly appears in my mind, usually of a person in a particular setting. There is nothing else. No action. No plot. I begin to wonder who this person is, what’s happening and why. As the character’s state of mind is revealed the beginning of a story emerges and I write the first scene.

That’s how it starts. From that point I either keep writing ‘from the seat of my pants’, without knowing where the story will go, or I do a bit of basic planning, jotting down several key ideas that will guide me in a specific direction.

Sometimes before I even start writing I’ve seen and explored that mental image so many times the character has become familiar. Other times I get to know the person as the story develops. In either case my imagination begins creating a setting complete with meaningful props. That’s when I dig out my old magazines and catalogues, grab scissors and glue, and begin making a story collage.

My collages always begin with a picture that resembles my mental image of the main character. Beyond that it’s a random process during which I collect a hodgepodge of clippings. It’s an ongoing process throughout the writing of the first draft. I stick the clippings onto card, adding others as the story moves ahead. Usually I end up with anywhere from two to four cards which I slip into plastic sleeves and clip into my research binder.

During a current critique of my w.i.p. I was reminded that leaving cards in the binder doesn’t serve me very well unless it’s close at hand for frequent reference. Today I have the collage cards out to help me get back into the mood to improve a tiny slice of romance writing. There is no candlelight and soft music, just the picture of an ornate gold Celtic cross.

Do you use props to help get into a specific mood for writing a scene? What are they?