I got a bookcase for my writing stuff last year. It fits nicely behind a door upstairs and it's crammed with the following:
· Scrapbooks filled with pictures taken from magazines - to get to know characters
· Newspaper and magazine cuttings - interesting articles which could inspire stories or articles relevant to my book (eg. Obituaries are useful for WW2 research)
· Novels which inspire me: Anne Tyler and Louis de Bernières for beautiful language, David Mitchell for structure in 'Cloud Atlas', Jane Austen, E.M.Forster etc...
· 'How to' books and reference books such as Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2012, Dictionary and Thesaurus
· Research notes and printouts from the internet
· Books read for research - travel writing from Italy, non-fiction books about Italy, books about WW2 in Italy and in the U.K., novels set in Italy (Anthony Capella), novels set in the U.S. about Italian-Americans (Adriana Trigiani)
· Novels read to see which market my novel fits into.
· Photographs of Siena
· Guidebooks and maps of Siena, Venice and New York City
· A CD of the opera Tosca by Puccini used for researching a scene
· Exercise books and small notebooks filled with random ideas.
· A4 exercise books filled with scene plans and first drafts of scenes written in cafés
· Notes from writing classes and conferences
· and much more...
I've collected all of this over the past few years, using the information to help complete my novel and to research submitting to agents.
I thought I'd write a series of blog posts about things from my writing bookcase. This week I'm going to write about using a scrapbook to get to know characters.
When I made a scrapbook for the characters in 'The Grandson', they came to life and I need to make one for Book 2. Pictures of scenes, clothes, objects and even words can be used to help make a character real.
Here are a few cut-outs from my scrapbook:
Jessica is the heroine
A picture of a farmhouse kitchen - Jessica's home in Yorkshire
Clothes and accessories which Jessica would wear/carry
A picture of diamond earrings - Jessica is accused of stealing her boss, Isabella's diamond earrings in Act 2. Jessica finds out who really took them when she goes to see the opera, Tosca in a Tuscan hilltown with Alessandro.
Gabriella is the hero, Alessandro's girlfriend-on hold - an antagonist.
The word 'married' - her goal is to marry Alessandro
Pictures of scales, a running machine and trainers - she exercises a lot
Pictures of a pushchair, a highchair and a babygrow - she gets pregnant
Photo of a Mustang - she borrows her father's car, it breaks down and she asks old schoolfriend, Frank to repair it at the garage where he works. She has a fling with Frank which impacts the main plot.
Harriet is Jessica's confidante.
Picture of houses in London - She is the opposite of Jessica, being from South Kensington in London. She is from the South of the U.K. and is wealthy.
Picture of china cups with tea - Harriet would insist on a cup of tea being made with the milk being added last.
Running machine - Harriet goes running every day and is very slim.
I'd be interested to know if you've used a scrapbook in the same way or if you have any other comments.