Moods boards are a tool writer’s use to help set the tone and mood of the novel they are working on. The images reflect the genre and important bits of the story. While they’re used in many facets of the business and creative world, writer’s generally use them for inspiration, research, presentation, and marketing.
Here’s how Wikipedia defines it:
A mood board is a type of visual presentation or ‘collage’ consisting of images, text, and samples of objects in a composition. It can be based on a set topic or can be any material chosen at random. A mood board can be used to convey a general idea or feeling about a particular topic. They may be physical or digital, and can be effective presentation toolsWikipedia
I’ve always loved mood boards for the striking images people compile and the hints of story that stir the imagination. My favorites offer a specific and intriguing glimpse at something unique, like I’ve been clued in on a secret. However, unless you’ve traveled to a location or possess the gift of photography, the challenge is in finding images that evoke some sort of feeling. Stock photos are a good place to start. This article lists ten online stock photo sites, several of which are free. I also have a Shutterstock account and I use Canva Pro which costs a little bit of money.
My Mood Boards
A couple days ago, I was feeling a little burnt out. Think I needed a mental vacation. So I set aside the short story I was working on and decided to create a mood board for the novel I just finished.
I’ll admit, this was my first attempt at a mood board. And because I was putting it together very much after fact, finding and compiling the perfect images was a little challenging. I sifted through hundreds of pictures and worked until I came up with some satisfying results.
Attempt #1 Bold and Beautiful
This first mood board has a lot of color. A little more than I wanted. And the woods looks fake, but I liked that picture because of the weeds growing up in the trail, and my characters spend a significant amount of time in the forest at night. I like the first picture because we’re looking down off of a cliff, but I’m not a big fan of the water. I love the hawk, 4-wheeler, and hands. But I found another 4-wheeler picture that also works…
Attempt #2 A Little Too Subtle
This second board offers softer, more muted tones that I love, but the romance picture doesn’t capture enough detail for me, and the journals are too fashionable. I love the barn. It makes several appearances in my story but it’s a prop, not a significant story piece. This cliff picture is perfect for me, but as a marketing tool (if I use it that way), it doesn’t really say much to the reader.
Attempt #3 That Feels Right
I blended my favorites, keeping the cliff because I can see my characters sitting there. To give the cliff edge more of a presence, I cropped the image. I removed the red out of the journal picture which gives it more of the feel I’m looking for (and so it doesn’t contrast). This board still has color, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. The mood board keeps to the more neutral tones found in nature, which is important. The romance picture still isn’t right (because of the water) but the characterization is perfect. The woods have the wrong kind of trees, but I like the eerie tone. One last little bit of change came in the tag line. I switched the word ‘will’ to ‘could.’
So what do you think of my final mood board? Have a guess at the genre?
Have you developed a mood board of any kind? Do you have any tips or tricks?
For a more thorough and detailed article check out How to Create a Story and Mood Board by Lindsey Elizabeth.
For more semi professional writing articles by me, check out my article on Setting Mood and Tone across Time in Non Fiction.