~ By Sloane B. Collins
What helps me “discover” my story? Do I make playlists? Collages?
The answer to those questions is YES, all of the above. I struggled for years to finish stories without growing bored from plotting every bit of the books. Until a couple of years ago I decided to let go and just write.
I started out with a posterboard of pictures that reminded me of a holiday romance I was writing. I’d pull it out when it was time to write, but eventually I needed more pictures and it was just too bulky, and too difficult to haul around if I wrote outside the house.
I had seen in a Michael’s advertisement a Smash Journal, so I purchased one to use next time I needed it. Boy, did it ever come in handy. My debut novel takes place in the Alsace region of France, and since I’ve not had the opportunity to go to France yet, I had to make do with what I could. Friends had told me about Pinterest several years ago, and I had pinned a few crafts and moved on. Then I realized it was a treasure trove of pictures to inspire and immerse me in my story.
So I started a board with pictures of the Alsace region and characters. Then I realized I had pinned so many pictures that I couldn’t find what I wanted. So I broke it down into a board for the hero and heroine, one for the main setting, one for the hero’s house, one for the heroine’s dream bakery, etc. You can see them here if you’d like. https://www.pinterest.com/sloanebcollins/ (Now I have tons of boards for every story, and boards for the prequel, 2nd and 3rd books coming up.)
For “Love Redesigned”, I used that Smash Journal and broke it down into tabbed areas, somewhat like the Pinterest boards, with a section for my hero and heroine and their goals, motivations, conflict, backstory, and where I want them to go in the story. I’ve been a scrapbooker for twenty years, so I used all my scrapping stuff to make a beautiful journal, and it helped me get to know my story, the characters, setting, etc. Plus it fueled my creative side!
As I wrote the story, I played French music over and over again, until I felt I was sitting at a sidewalk café in Paris. I played the soundtracks from “Something’s Gotta Give” and the remake of “Sabrina” and the French songs are perfect for this series: C’est si Bon by Eartha Kitt; Samba de Mon Coeur Qui Bat by Coralie Clément; Que Reste – T’il de Nos Amour by Charles Trenet; Assedic by Los Escrocs; Je Cherche un Homme by Eartha Kitt; La Vie en Rose by Louis Armstrong; Growing up in Paris by John Williams, Moonlight by Sting.
So all of these things helped immerse me in the story, and really get to know the characters, envision the setting, and feel as if I was there as the story was happening. In fact, a few pictures inspired whole scenes. As I was searching for a wedding dress, I came across a picture of two flower girls, and all of a sudden they were new characters in the book. That was very exciting!
Sloane B. Collins is an award-winning author of Contemporary Romance. Although she is a fifth-generation Texan, she dreams of moving to the French countryside someday. Right now, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband of over twenty-six years, and their four rambunctious cats. Since Sloane and her husband love to travel, she’s determined to write a novel set in just about every place they visit.
Social media links: https://www.facebook.com/sloaneburkecollins