Quick one today - and yes, I really mean that this time, because I have a lot of other stuff to do. For one, all of your comments were so helpful (seriously) that I've been off and running with my plotting, and two, the Olympics are on. And political controversy and human rights concerns aside, I love the Olympics. There's something about watching athletes stretch and challenge the limits of what the human body can do, and excel with such determination and grace, that just utterly captures my imagination and my heart.
There. I said it. I'm a sucker.
Anyway, I'm still working on Ancient Greece, banging out the details of the plot, which means that I don't have a whole of new thoughts to write about here yet. So I thought I'd share a little piece of what I do when I'm developing a novel: I get heavily involved with Google image search.
Now, I don't often do this for my characters, because I usually can't find anything that captures the way they look in my head; most searches leave me feeling disappointed and irritated. For example, an image search for "Apollo Greek god" will turn up a wide variety of pictures, from the classical to the artistic to the romantic, but none of them come close to how I see him: tall and athletic, with short curling blond hair, serious but bright eyes, and a body that a male model would kill for. Not a bad mental picture, huh?
Where I do find a lot of inspiration, and a lot of success, is when I search for images about a place. I need to be able to describe how any given setting looks, but a really good image will fire also my imagination, and give me a little flash of an idea that I can work on. I've got a bunch of these for Ancient Greece.
First, Mount Olympus:
There are a ton of images out there of Olympus, but I love this one because it's mysterious and otherworldly - a place I imagine the gods might live. Plus, it's often described as wreathed in clouds, which is a fantastic image. This one led me to wonder about how Apollo's mortal lover might see the mountain in its veil of clouds, and what he might think about the beings who live there - which gave me great insight into his character.
Then there's this one of the same mountain:
Very different, yes? I often imagine the Greek slopes like this: bare, desolate, and ancient. I imagined Damon, Apollo's lover (yes, I changed his name), herding his flocks of sheep on slopes like this, and this lead to my idea for the scene where Apollo first sees him.
Finally, there's this very modern picture of one of Apollo's temples:
Yes, I know, it's rather bare. There are artistic reconstructions of what the temple might have looked like, but like the images of Apollo, they're too specific for me: they don't leave room for my imagination to work. This one, on the other hand, has just enough structure for me to build a mental picture around it, all gleaming white marble and soaring grace, and I love how blue the sky is, and the sense of enormous, wide open space.
Ok, I know this post looks long, but it's also got a bunch of images. For me, this is actually short. Sad but true.