How to Use Pinterest to Write Your Novel

When it comes to writing, I’m very visual. As a huge movie buff, I like to see my novel in cinematic terms, unfolding before my eyes. If I can’t visualise a certain scene or character, I get stuck. Because I can touch type, quite often I don’t even look at my screen as I’m writing. Sometimes I close my eyes, so I can see the story in my mind’s eye or I look around at people passing by, if I’m in public or I gaze up at the sky and imagine, as I type.

I’m not an outliner i.e. a writer who plans and plots their novel, before they start, but I do keep notepads with my ideas and character notes jotted down. Sometimes, I cast an actor in my lead roles, you know, just in case Hollywood calls, once I’m published, but also because it means I have an instant idea of mannerisms, voice and physical features.

Recently, I joined Pinterest and I’ve got a number of different boards for everything from my garden, to film posters I like, places to read and write and also images for my latest novel. Yes, I’m using Pinterest to store the visual aspects of my WIP. And here’s how.

But first…

What the hell is Pinterest?

Just in case you missed the memo, Pinterest is a virtual cork board or scrap book. Instead of snipping pictures out of magazines and gluing them in a book, you simply browse the internet and once you’ve got a Pinterest account, it allows you to ‘pin’ any image, as well as videos. You can create boards based on certain themes, such as sci-fi or dogs and 18th century architecture.

The rise of Pinterest was usually described as the social media channel for women planning their dream wedding. Boards of dresses, flowers and the perfect party favours and hair-dos proliferated. Nobody thought it would stick around and nobody took it seriously for anything outside fancies and fripperies. Four years later and it’s still here and being used by marketers, businesses, artists, writers and, of course, women planning their dream wedding. But I think it’s an interesting and under utilised tool for authors.

Plan your novel with Pinterest

So you’ve got your latest project and it’s in the planning stages. You’re creating something set in Victorian London, but you’re struggling to get the feel of it in your writing. Head to Pinterest and create a board called ‘Victorian Cities’. If you don’t want other people to see it, you can make a ‘secret board’. This is a board that only you and people you share it with can see. Now, simply google “victorian cities” in images and start pinning anything that inspires.

That’s setting, but now you need characters. I cast Winona Ryder as the lead protagonist in one of my novels, so she’d be pinned to my

The Winona character wardrobe

The Winona character wardrobe

‘characters’ board. I also had a picture, I’d cut out of a magazine for one of my other main characters. I could scan that and pin it to my board. You

can also add character descriptions. You can pick out clothes and pin them to the board – anything to help you flesh out your characters.


Winona Ryder

My character as Winona Ryder – gamine, indie chick – pin it









One of my characters was rich and needed a home to suit, so I hit the internet to find some interiors. You could add this to your characters board or add it to ‘locations’. If you’re writing a James Bond-style international, jet set thriller, then a ‘locations’ board will come in very handy. You can even add locations to images and then you get a map with a tag for every image.

What car does your character drive? What does their school look like – is it a comp or a swish private school with a heli-pad? Pin it. Do they have a dog? What breed? Pin it. Alternatively, maybe you need to describe period costumes. Then you can set up a board for ‘costumes’ and pin away. Your Pinterest boards will become your visual guide to your novel. If you’re stuck, browse your boards to get back in touch with your characters and setting.

Basset Hound

Does your character have a dog? What breed? Pin it!

If you make sure all your boards are ‘secret’, nobody will ever know what your pinning or what your novel is about. However, once your book is published, your Pinterest boards could become a brilliant, ready made marketing tool. You can release your boards for certain characters to give your readers an insight into your protagonists, allowing them to repin images and share with people on their own boards, but leading people back to you.

Are you one of those writers who clips pictures and news stories as sources of inspiration? If so, then Pinterest could help you keep everything in one place. And of course, you can access your Pinterest boards from anywhere with the internet, so your inspiration files are completely mobile, without weighing you down.


Do you use Pinterest to help plan your novel? Are you harnessing the ‘secret’ board and map functions to organise your ideas? Share your tips below.


7 thoughts on “How to Use Pinterest to Write Your Novel

  1. I have been using Pinterest for a long time. I switched to PinPinterest marketing tool to automate my Pinterest account, and I must say that worked pretty legit in boosting my Pinterest account performance. It saves my time and maintains my account better than me.


  2. Pingback: My NaNo Plan-o | There's No Place Like Napaskiak

    • Pinterest doesn’t have to be social. You can keep boards private. Plus there isn’t any chatter on pinterest so you could easily have a public board without having to interact with anyone.
      If you like to visualise places and people or moods, it can be useful. For instance describing a city you haven’t been to or the details of an object.
      It’s not for everyone. Just another tool.


  3. I looked at using Pintrest for my current project; I liked the idea of mashing together and representing the impressions and concepts in my head. The reason I didn’t use it was just a time thing, I think I spend too much of my time in front a screen already and Scrivener can take images to accompany my writing.

    I love the idea of it though, anything that helps creativity and can’t be negative thing.

    The other thing I do is sketch some of the places, buildings and scenes in my stories on A4 paper or a notebook. I am a pretty poor artist although it’s something I would like to develop further at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

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