Pinning the creative writing process

When you think of Pinterest, you might have images of wedding dresses, floral arrangements and hair styles in mind, but think again. Some authors have a social media channel that they’re naturally more comfortable with, and I’m happy to admit that that’s Pinterest for me – or in my words, inspired by the favourite Guinness-flavoured ale, PINT-terest.

Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time

If you haven’t heard, Pinterest is an online pinboard where you can browse, collect and share theme-based images that inspire you. As an author with (some say) a cinematic writing style, it’s a huge part of the process when writing to create mindmaps and moodboards to help articulate a vision for the books and to figure out how to attack them. Pinterest has been a tool to collate a series of online pinboards that reference locations, agencies, characters, even the brands and cars that appear in my books. Then, once I've got a rough structure for the novel mapped out and a moodboard in progress, it becomes a matter of what I like to call 'eating the elephant, one bite at a time'.

As any writer knows, breaking the grand plan of your novel into manageable, bite-sized chunks is as good a challenge as any, but I love Pinterest because it provides visual reminders for what I’m aiming for with plot, narrative, and style of each of my books, and one day hopefully, for the movies too. It’s instrumental in inspiring and developing the writing while I’m neck deep in getting the words on the page. Below, I'm going to share some snaps from a secret board for Intrepid 3 that’s assisting in staying on theme and on message for the newest Alex Morgan Intrepid adventure!

Connect with People who like your Aesthetic

Another great and unexpected side effect of collating these boards and images for character, location and plot inspiration, is that I’ve found a fantastic Pinterest community. I’ve had lots of contact with this engaged community, with people reaching out regularly to say that they like my aesthetic - who would say that of a former Paratrooper turned aid worker, counter-terrorism specialist? This has been so worthwhile, engaging with a new and eclectic community because it's a relatively new channel and an energised network.

In case you’re not on Pinterest but you’re interested in some of the visual inspiration I find when I’m writing, here are some images, including a sneak peek into Avenger: Intrepid 3’s inspiration. You won’t find any wedding dresses here!

Cult Action Icons

I've enjoyed an enduring fascination with The Avengers, The Professionals, The Saint, The Thunderbirds, the Bond films and the Marvel Comics since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. This board is a good reminder of them all!

View the Cult Action Hero board here.

Defender: Intrepid 1 & Hunter: Intrepid 2


You get a feel for the international-ness of the story in Defender on this board, from derelict shanties in Africa to the hallowed sails of Sydney Opera House.

View the Defender board here. 

Meanwhile, there's a feel for the music and films mentioned in Hunter on this board, as Charly is a classical pianist and music plays a central part in the story.

View the Hunter board here. 

Avenger: Intrepid 3 (TOP SECRET)

Without telling you what Avenger is about, I wonder what you read into these images?

Avenger, the third Alex Morgan Interpol adventure, by bestselling thriller writer Chris Allen.

Some of the actors and roles who inspire certain characters in my novels make an appearance in the secret Avenger board.

Avenger, the third Alex Morgan Interpol adventure, by bestselling thriller writer Chris Allen.
Avenger, the third Alex Morgan Interpol adventure, by bestselling thriller writer Chris Allen.

Of course, I'll make this board public as soon as I'm through the final drafts and heading towards publication!

Feast for the Eyes

It's a feast for the eyes, Pinterest, and one that I think is helping to enrich my own personal writing style, tapping into the visual cues that allow me to write a scene and evoke a mood or atmosphere. The end result of each board as it morphs and grows creates a rich soup of all the ideas for each story in one place. While it pleases me no end, I'm also pretty chuffed that other people enjoy looking at my boards, too.


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