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Writers are like magpies: using Pinterest to aid world building

It's only a week until Jamie Mollart's dark speculative thriller, Kings of a Dead World, hits bookshop shelves. The world building in Jamie's new book is exceptional and completely believable - when we asked him how he created such a terrifyingly real future, he mentioned Pinterest. Here are his top tips on how to use Pinterest boards to help develop the setting for your writing:

For me, world building is one of the most challenging and exciting parts of writing.

For Kings of a Dead World I wanted to create a realistic dystopian world. One close enough to the possible that it was scary, but recognisably in the future and removed from the modern day. Although the pandemic has brought it worryingly closer than I intended, but I digress…

In order to paint a realistic picture for the reader, your world needs to be as complete as possible – but it’s a real juggling act as to what you tell them explicitly in the text.

To be effective, much of the world building needs to remain in the background and not reach the page. You should hint at it in your writing without relying on too much exposition, but to do this you need to know it, inside out and backwards.

This presented a very different writing challenge for me than my debut novel. The Zoo was set in an advertising agency, something I know a lot about having worked in one for over 20 years, which meant I could concentrate on plot and characters.

For Kings of a Dead World I’d introduced a new level of complexity as a writer and I wanted the world of the novel to feel real. I’m a visual learner, I like to have things around me to inspire my creative process so I decided to use Pinterest to create a virtual mood board. If you don’t know Pinterest it’s a digital platform that allows you to ‘pin’ images to a board and share it with other people.

It’s a very simple and elegant tool. People often use it for interior design projects or weddings, but it perfectly served my purpose of creating a visual reference point as I went through the process of writing Kings of a Dead World.

Writers are like magpies: we are attracted to shiny things, we like collecting them, but we’re very easily distracted. I added locations, themes, potential characters, and generally anything that inspired me, then referred back to it as I wrote. A word of caution: adding things is incredibly useful during the ideation phase of the novel writing process, where your story builds incrementally in your mind, but less so later when you’re revising the 80,000 or so words of the first draft.

Sitting here now, some time after the completion of the novel, it’s surprising how closely I stuck to the vision I had at the start. The mood board clearly served its intended purpose. If you want to have a look and see how it worked you can find it here.

Jamie Mollart

Jamie Mollart