A muse (or mood) board is a visual aid designed to create mood, inform plot or inspire descriptive prose. Typically, the advertising industry, interior designers, wedding organizers, or more recently, web designers have used this technique. In writing, a muse board is less formal and structured than a storyboard, but can loosely serve the same function. I recently presented this concept to a group of writers at the Mount Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club and the concept received a great deal of interest.
If you decide to try this writing aid, the first two decisions you will have to make is what format you want and what media you’d like to use. The format can be collage, sequential images that outline plot, character-specific, or abstract and mood driven. There are many options, adding corkboard next to your computer, tri-fold cardboard (think child’s science project), or digital. One advantage of the trifold is that it can be displayed at author readings and book signings. The digital world offers many types of platforms, including Pinterest, Photoshop, Imagespark (shows other mood boards, but this site is possibly closing), Sampleboard and Evernote. Pinterest has an added bonus that your followers can monitor your progress and it can create buzz and it is free.
While digital media is convenient, content is limited to Internet images and digital photos (can photograph other media), while using traditional media gives more options for material and can include:
• Post its
• Scented cloth
• Photographs of your own text
• Your introductory story paragraph
• Internet images
• Inspirational quotes
• Isolated words
• Sound bites (like a movie trailer)
Here are some of the many possible advantages:
1). Correct weaknesses in your writing style.
2). Identify key themes and help set tone or mood.
3). Focus plots and overcome writer’s block.
4). Craft detailed descriptive text.
5). Prevent time-consuming rewrites.
6). Keep text true to your time period or era and timelines straight.
7). Create a cohesive balance in the arc of the story.
8). Helps ensure consistency of descriptions of characters and setting.
9). Assist in foreshadowing.
10). Prevent meandering and assist in finding your beginning and/or ending.
While you might be concerned that creating a muse board will take away from precious writing time, but the truth is that the planning and energy can actually save time. Creating a muse board can exercise your creative brain and take your work to a whole new level. It can also be a fun visual to take to author signings after publication.