Christine Stovell says, ‘Picture This.’

Ahhh! It’s that time again! Having just delivered Book 3, it’s time to open a brand new notebook. My notebooks aren’t so much about the writing, but for gathering all those fleeting thoughts, feelings, words, and clippings that will provide the creative compost for the next novel. I really enjoy this stage; it’s like falling in love again and, yes, I know I’ll wonder what the attraction was at some point along the way, but my notebooks serve to remind me of what excited me about the project in the first place.

I can hardly call myself a photographer, but I do carry a camera with me when I’m out, so I’ll start a photo file for the book, too. That way I have a factual record of locations or the changing seasons and can see exactly what that bluebell wood, for example, looked like in the rain.Bluebell wood in the rain

And then, oooh, there’s Pinterest ( … I was a bit hesitant at first, but so enjoyed setting up what I call my ‘springboards’ – because they illustrate some of the images and inspiration which provided the ‘jumping off’ points – for Turning the Tide and Move Over Darling, that I set up a secret board for my third novel as soon as I began work on the book. For me, images are a great way to evoke the mood and sense of the story I’m trying to tell… mind you, there are so many lovely pictures out there it can get a bit addictive, so be warned! Anyway, my secret board for Book 3’s no secret any more, but I now have a new board for Book 4 and the perfect excuse to peruse Pinterest in the name of research…


20 thoughts on “Christine Stovell says, ‘Picture This.’

  1. Aah, bluebells, my favourite colour of all time! I don’t do notebooks, I do folders full of hopefully inspirational bits like cuttings and photographs and anything which adds to the flavour of the novel – and of course my own notes, as I grandly call my random jottings.

  2. I have a page on Pinterest but I have a lot to do these days and don’t get as much time to spend over there as I’d like. Congrats on delivering book three, I look forward to reading it. Your book 2 is in my TBRs at the minute.

  3. We have a lovely display of bluebells in our back garden. Your photo reminded me that I should get out of my study more often to look at them! What a good idea to take a camera with you, or to use your iphone, even when out for a random walk. I shall lift your idea in the future, Chris! Good luck with your preparations for Book 4.

  4. Love the taking pix idea in this most excellent of posts, Chris…..and with digital cameras these days we can just delete what we don’t want so can snap away to our heart’s content and edit later….now where did I put my camera….:)

  5. Erm, I have a few box files too, Margaret… however, I found I was putting articles away rather than reading them, so if they’re stuck in a notebook or there as a digital image, I use them more. Same idea though, as you say so well, they all add to the ‘flavour’!

    Liz – I can guarantee when I don’t bother with it, I’ll wish I had it. Like the cold afternoon when I walked to the beach and the most beautiful bride in a vintage dress and her groom in RAF uniform were having their photos taken against the backdrop of a stormy sea… yep, that was the day I left my camera behind!!

    Linda, yes, that’s the beauty of it. I still remember the days of be very careful with precious film because it was so expensive – I’ve got much better now at taking lots of shots in the hope that one of them will be good!

  6. Great idea to use a new notebook for each book, so I might “nick” that if that’s okay with you. At the moment my note-taking is all over the place…

  7. I just have a random drawer full of newspaper cuttings, odd notes in different books scattered around my office and pictures I’ve taken not in any order or labeled – must get more organized! Like everything else in life I always have good intentions. Well done on wrapping up the 3rd book.

  8. Thanks, Angela – I think sometimes just knowing they’re there does the trick! There have been several occasions when I’ve thought about an article I’ve saved then find the magic is in the idea rather than the cutting!

  9. Maria – I MISSED you! How could I have done that? So sorry! You’re right – it’s very hard juggling all the pieces and Pinterest can lure you away from the things you should be doing, but I did enjoy setting my boards up!

  10. I need a notebook! I have bits of paper folded up and ‘put somewhere safe’…I also have dog eared little books full of all sorts of irrelevant stuff mixed up with ‘really important’ ideas. Let’s face it, my thought patterns resemble a bowl of cold spaghetti. It somehow seems to work though. But I will get a notebook…I will. xx

  11. Mandy – you could make a bowl of cold spaghetti funny and entertaining so your formula works just fine as it is!

  12. You wouldn’t believe how many notebooks I have – all as crisp and clean as the day I bought them. (i.e. empty). I have an obsession with stationery, especially notebooks. I need to utilise them, instead of cramming everything into ‘the current one’. I’ll have to look into Pinterest too – I took a peek once, and didn’t understand it at all.

    Thanks for such an interesting blog post, Chris.

    Liv x

  13. I have some blank notebooks too, Liv, because they’re not the RIGHT notebooks – please note the right notebooks above… but can I find them any more? No? They are a lovely B5 size… sigh. I’m not sure I understand Pinterest, but I do like it!

  14. Oh to be in England – or Wales – now that Spring is here! Gorgeous photo of bluebells, Chris!

    I am also a huge believer in images, especially for historicals. Haven’t thought of using Pintrest but might give it a go.

    Well done on book 3!

  15. Thank you, Zana! The bluebells are so fleeting, gone before you know it. They’ve now been swamped by ferns on this particular walk. I’m glad you’re thinking about Pinterest… I won’t be the only one noodling about with it! My work is done!!

  16. Such an interesting post Chris. And I love your idea of always having a camera with you for images such as how a wood looked at a particular time of the year. I’ve always been a bit useless with cameras, but have just bought a Smartphone and can’t believe how easy it is. Definitely one of my projects from now on. Congratulations on book 3, and now the exciting creation of a new book awaits you.

  17. Thank you, Margaret! A ‘point and shoot’ camera has made it much easier for me to capture those moments that are so easily forgotten.

  18. Oh, I keep meaning to use Pinterest more but never have time – must try to do this!! 🙂

  19. I’m loving the taking photos idea too, Chris. May just have to give it a go. You sound so much more organised than me. I have given up on pininterest – not a clue what you are meant to do. Massive congratulations re book 3 – cannot wait to read it! Enjoy this falling in love process with book 4 – sure the readers will love it too X

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