Something that can be helpful and fun during any stage of writing (whether you’re dreaming up ideas, planning a specific story, doing the actual writing, or revising a draft) is creating an aesthetic for the story. Also called a mood board, this can be anything from a collage of images to a collection of words or quotes.
Creating an aesthetic forces you to think of the feelings, themes, or even settings in the story in a broad, boiled-down sense. It can give you the ability to see the story at a glance, and it might show you that you have a lack of focus, or that you’re going a direction you didn’t intend to go. Maybe you’ll realize that everything on your mood board is dark and depressing, but you didn’t intend the story to be so dark. Maybe you’ll realize that a subplot took over the board, and that maybe you’re focusing on it too much, or that it should actually be the main plot. An aesthetic can be shared with others before you even have a synopsis that you can share, if you’re still in earlier stages of writing a story.
And just as importantly, creating a mood board can be FUN! Sometimes when I’m struggling with a part of my story, or with motivation to continue, creating or tweaking a mood board just allows me to have fun while keeping me in my story world.
There’s really no wrong way to create an aesthetic or mood board. If you’re not sure where to start, try searching for key words related to your book’s themes, feelings, setting, etc. on a site like pexels.com, pixabay.com, or unsplash.com. Gather some images, and then use something like canva.com to put those pictures together in some way. You can even use a site like Pinterest to gather your mood board.
Remember that the aesthetic doesn’t even have to be all pictures (or any pictures), despite how it might seem to go against the meaning of the word “aesthetic.” Again, there’s no right or wrong here, just a tool to inspire, discover, or boost creativity.
Here are some examples of mood boards:
Settings that get progressively darker
My aesthetic for Pithea
Do you make aesthetics for your stories? Feel free to share yours, or your own tips for making a mood board!