Finding Inspiration: You’ve Iqued my Pinterest

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So I have, like many people in this day of modern gosh-wow futurity, a Pinterest account. I stumbled upon it through the supreme Brownian motion of the webs and managed to misuse it for a few weeks until I realized I was doing it wrong and since then it has been a daily rest stop for me.

Especially because of the way I use it.

I use my Pinterest feed to inspire my creativity. To spark those ideas. If you asked me the question: “Where do you get your ideas?” I would give you two answers.

1. The voices, those damnable voices. Why? Why? Why won’t they stop?

2. Pinterest.

Pinterest feeds the devil that lives in my brain that forces me to write. Pinterest is a chewy box of special bon-bons that he crunches up and spits into my brain. (Note: Gotta work on less disgusting imagery there.)

How do I use it? For one thing I don’t usually search for any particular thing on Pinterest. I just flick through screen after screen until something I see makes me pin it to the relevant board like some post-modern lepidopterist. I roughly sort things into digital morgues that I reference when I need an idea. For my campaigns and writing projects I create boards that I use to store images that prompt ideas.

Sometimes it can be as simple as a source for the look or feel of a certain character, other times it can be the starting point for an encounter or even an entire arc. Whatever you end up using it for, its a great source of ideas for creative projects.

There’s a game I like to play with it as a writing exercise some days, where I pick an image and create a narrative around the piece for use somewhere else. Here are a couple of worked examples, developed from the image:

1. The Council of Birds

Setting: Urban Fantasy/Conspiracy/Horror
Precis: The Council of Birds, an exclusive club whose members are rigorously selected for their beauty, power, and wealth to protect their interests and cement their control over the machinery of society. Members wear over-sized masks of bird skulls during their exclusive dinners. Rumors persist that the members of the council use these dinners to both initiate new members and enhance their own power by consuming the flesh of the rare and mystical Simurgh and invoking Thoth as their benefactor.

2. The Grippli Courtesan

Setting: High Fairy Tale Fantasy
Precis: A courtesan in the service of the lord of a feudal estate deep in the heart of the capital of a Grippli-centric empire seeks the aid of the noble players in restoring the reputation and honor of her lord. The players have been paid to intervene in the local political situation and navigate the deceptively simple yet byzantine halls of power in this strange kingdom so similar to theirs and yet beholden to rules they cannot comprehend. Can they face off against the intrigues of the Kappa to restore the reputation of a fallen lord?

3. The Wreck of the RSC 10-07

Setting: Space Opera
Precis: The Redmond Scientific Corporation research ship 10-07 vanished twenty years ago on returning from a survey of the SDC106GC Cluster, presumably as the result of catastrophic FTL drive failure. She’s been spotted and mapped by a stellar object tracking station mysteriously close to a newly settled colony world on the fringe of human explored space. A salvage crew has been sent to investigate in the pay of the RSC and the local authorities. Is this a simple accident or did the 10-07 find something they weren’t expecting out there in the black between the stars.

4. Exploring the Exoverse

Setting: Kirby-Style Cosmic Supers
Precis: Stan and Jack Starling hadn’t expected to open a gateway to…somewhere else. But they did and now the adventurous duo are aching to explore this phenomenon they’ve dubbed the Exoverse. From what they’ve discovered on their brief forays through the portal, the Exoverse obeys physical laws other than those of the world we know. Now all they need to do is gather a few like minded and adventurous friends to accompany them on the adventure of a lifetime. But what sleeping terror lay on the other side waiting for new worlds to conquer?
I hope this brief glimpse inside a pierce of the creative process helps ignite your imaginations as much as it does mine.

Extra Credit

If you read this article and enjoyed it, feel free to send me images from your own feeds that you’d like me to riff into worked examples. If I get enough responses, I might make this a regular thing.
Happy pinning.
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    Susan Silver

    Great article Michael. That really is the purpose of Pinterest I think, to spark the imagination. I hope this picks up and becomes a new series. I would love to read what you come up with. I’ll send you some pins that I’ve collected.

    1. Avatar
      Michael R. Smith

      That would be great. I was thinking about that on my commute this morning, like maybe a Monday morning Pinterest inspiration where I translate a pin into a story idea, character, etc. on the fly.

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