By Juliana Warta

While it may seem tedious to create a mood board for a project that may never have a visual component, it still does come in pretty handy, or at least it has for me. Having a visual reference or simply a collection of ideas and inspirations for a story can make the writing process both easier and more vivid.

So how do you create a mood board? What apps are helpful? What could you search for? A great place to start is Pinterest. Pinterest has many aesthetics and pictures that you can look through, and it’s very easy to search without having to be too specific.

Pick a color/ tone. You want to think of the color or tone you want your story to have. If you’re writing a more mystical/fantastical story, you may want to have a warm color like yellow or a sage green. If it’s horror or a much darker story you’re writing, you may want to consider a dark red or brown or a moss green. Thinking in terms of color might help you establish mood in your story. Searches that may help include: “fantasy aesthetic,” “dark aesthetic,” or “night/day aesthetic.” Most of the time you can find exactly what you’re looking for just by adding “aesthetic” to the end of it.

Think of your setting. If this takes place in medieval times, a castle might appear in some of the pictures or a village with simple cottages. However, if this takes place in a modern period, you may want to think about where your characters hang out. Perhaps a local coffee shop or movie theater? This will not only give you an idea of where the story takes place, but also gives some insight into your characters. Think about why they like going here so much. Is this coffee shop a quiet place for them to do work? Do they meet their friends here? Do they have a crush on the barista and come to say hi every day? Searches may include: “medieval aesthetic,” “movie/coffee shop/ library aesthetic.” Sometimes adding “date” before aesthetic gets you more pictures with people in them.

Quotes about the message/theme: You may want to think about some quotes that relate to your story, whether stemming from theme/motif or a motto they might live by. These quotes may never appear in the story itself, but are important to have for background. When creating your character, it may help to create a moral code for them or people that they look up to. You can also search for quotes from your favorite books or tv shows, one that you think inspires or relates to what you’re currently working on. Searches for this may include: “quotes about never giving up,” ( sometimes quotes may come up in aesthetics.)

Aesthetics for your characters (physical appearance): Now it’s time to start crafting your characters within the story. Having references to what you want them to look like can really help with description. If your character’s bright red hair is important to the story, or the first thing people notice about them, it may be helpful to have some faceless pictures of red heads. You should also think about eye color and skin color. Do they have bright blue eyes or a more subtle dark brown eye color? Also think about what this may say about your character; are they aware of their most captivating feature? Do they like to show it off or keep it to themselves? Do they get complimented on it a lot and how does that make them feel? Searches may include: “(color) eyes aesthetic,” or “(hair color) hair aesthetic.” Also try searching up specific features on someone’s face, maybe “freckles,” or “pale skin.”

The way a character dresses can say a lot about their personality. If they are quiet and shy, they might wear more monotone and baggy clothes to stand out less. But if they are loud and outgoing, they may wear more preppy skirts or happy colors. Some questions to ask yourself while creating this mood board might be: what is my character’s most appealing/loud feature? What would my character wear on a daily basis? What might my character wear on a first date or fancy event? How a character dresses in a story set in medieval times might inform you about their job or social status. If you’re setting up two characters in conflict, you might want to differentiate how they dress.  

Having mood boards for your character’s hobbies or favorite things can really help create their personality and give the reader a good idea of what they’re passionate about. Even if it’s not a central idea in the story, it still makes your character feel like a real person and makes them more relatable. Think about what they like to do in their free time, such as reading or art. You can delve deeper by asking what type of books they like to read or what type of art they enjoy (painting, drawing Etc.) and where they like to go to do these things? Do they have friends that share these interests with them?

By the time you’re finished you should have more than enough material to look back on for inspiration. And who knows what else you might discover along the way!

(An example of a finished product)

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