Have you ever sat in front of your computer unsure where to start writing? Perhaps that’s because you don’t have a clear picture of a character or setting in your mind. It could be helpful to make yourself a book aesthetic in times like these to influence your writing.
We on the Admin team have had much success using book aesthetics. Read on to discover our various methods to create the perfect ambiance.
What is a Book Aesthetic?
A book aesthetic is essentially a collage of pictures from which you can draw inspiration for your writing. It can include super concrete things like a specific room layout that you describe in your story. Or it can be images in certain colors that speak to your story’s vibe.
A book aesthetic can include pictures of people on which you’d like to base your characters. Some writers even choose to create character-specific aesthetics. In addition to visuals, some writers use other sensory experiences to get them in the proper writing headspace.
Who doesn’t love a good mood board? Thanks to Pinterest, we can have mood boards for literally everything—even our books!
“I love utilizing things like mood boards on Pinterest to help with my novels,” says Admin member, Allison Wells. “I will pick actors or models to help me remember what my characters are supposed to look like. And since I write a good bit of historical fiction, I try to include real photographs or pictures of locations to help me and my readers see what things would have been like in that day.”
Allison even adds color schemes “as if [she] were painting a room” to help her grasp the mood of her work. There’s a whole science behind colors and what they represent, which can be very informative for setting a specific mood. For example, if you’re writing a book set in 1800s London, you might include lots of grays, blacks, and other dreary colors to create a Dickensian feel.
For those of us who write in made-up worlds, it can be difficult to keep the details straight. This is where a world-building platform may come in handy, especially for writers of sci-fi and fantasy.
There are a TON of world-building platforms out there, and you may already have your favorite. But the MWW Admin team is partial to World Anvil. Here’s what S.R. Logan has to say about it:
“If you’re extra-extra like me and you have a gazillion world details to keep straight, World Anvil is a great one-stop shop to keep everything organized. I mainly use their articles, timelines, and images tools. They recently added whiteboards which are great for outlining or creating digital mood boards. They have friendly how-to videos for each tool, but if you’re more of a click-around-and-find-out person, you’ll still be able to figure everything out.”
If you’re interested in utilizing World Anvil, we highly recommend it!
Using AI to Help Your Book Aesthetic
AI platforms like Midjourney have become a character-creation game-changer for writers. Just describe your character in detail and search through the curated database to find the perfect image that represents your character.
Admin member Jill Robinson does the same for her settings. “I use Midjourney AI to create settings from my stories. I use it to craft richer scenes, and it often helps when writing characters interacting within that space. I’ll also use these images to post to my social media accounts or create ads for my pieces. When I’m feeling stuck with a scene, creating an image in Midjourney can get the creative juices flowing once again.”
In the case where your setting is an important character, it might be beneficial to use an AI platform for your own clarity. You can also use VR like S.R. Logan. She uses the Wander App by Google. “I’ve taken a stroll through London, visited the top of Tokyo Tower, seen some of the volcanoes in Hawaii, gazed upon the pyramids in Egypt, and most recently visited several marinas to help with a scene in my current WIP. My virtual excursions help ensure my accuracy but also end up inspiring little bits I would not have thought of without the exploration.”
Playlists and Other Sensory Experiences
For the majority of us, visual stimulation gives us the most results across the board. Sometimes, though, we need to tap into one of our other five senses to open the creative floodgates.
S.R. Logan uses playlists. (Oh, does she have playlists!) “Music is extremely important for my writing process. The right playlist can help me stay focused on a scene long enough to finish it, or when it’s something I can’t finish in one sitting, help me get back in the right tone for a scene or character. I have playlists dedicated to each book I have planned as well as lists for individual characters and specific relationships. I have a lot of playlists. (84 at today’s count.)”
In addition to finding pictures for her characters, Amber J. Painter is big on candles. She has a different candle for every story she writes as well as assigned candles for different characters. Scents can trigger specific memories and give us certain vibes in a totally different way than other senses.
Creating a book aesthetic can be a valuable tool. It can help center you in the world you’re creating through visual, auditory, or other sensory reminders. As busy moms who juggle a million things, it’s not always easy to jump right back into the world of our story. A book aesthetic may be just the trigger you need.