Novelist’s Fast-Start: Collage With Words and Images

Write a Novel

Want to write a novel and find it hard to get started?

Here’s a strategy that I use, and teach my writing students – collage. A collage is a collection of words and images, which while unrelated, will transform before your eyes into the plot of a novel.

It’s magic.

Free write elements for your collage

Free writing is simple to do – I like to think of it as free form brainstorming.

Here’s how to free write. Set a timer for five minutes, and start writing. It doesn’t matter much what you write. The results of a particular free writing session aren’t important. Here’s Wikipedia on free writing.

Pinterest’s very useful for free writing inspiration. Go to Pinterest, and type “actress” into the search query field.

Actress Pinterest
Pinterest search

Choose an image, and switch on your timer and start your free write. Your right brain “thinks” in images, so starting by glancing at some images helps.

Here are some additional words to type into Pinterest’s search query field, one by one: actor, car, river, beach, history… you get the idea. Just enter anything that comes to mind, and then choose an image and start writing.

Collect images for your collage

Got any old magazines? Rip out any images which appeal to you. You’ll use them for your collage. You can collect as many images as you like.

My friends bring me their old magazines, and I go through them for collage material. I store my images in an archive box – I know that even if I don’t use them right away, one day I will.

How to make your collage

Once you’ve got some free writes, you can make your collage.

Make your collage by hand; that’s easiest. All you need is a sheet of poster board, or a large artist’s sketchbook, and some glue. Your collage can be any size your like. I like mine to be large – 3 foot by 4 foot. I can prop the collage up, so that I can look at it for a few days.

Print out your free writes. Then cut them up. You want snippets which are around a paragraph long.

Paste some images you’ve ripped from magazines onto the poster board, and then paste in some snippets.

Keep going. Once your collage is done, you can sit and look at it.

Often, characters and a plot will come to you right away – you may not even complete the collage. At other times, it will take several days for material to gel in your subconscious mind.

Try collaging. It’s a fun and easy way to get started on your next novel.

, and on Twitter: @angee

photo credit: Mara ~earth light~ via photopin cc

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Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her websites. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.