How to use Pinterest to inspire, outline and write your novel

I am a visual person, and that completely plays into my writing. But oftentimes it’s hard to put what you see in your head into words.

Whether it’s a city you’ve never been to before, a magical world’s topography or as simple as a specific dress for a special scene, imagery that already exists can prove beneficial to break down writer’s block and get the words flowing.

And luckily… There’s an app for that.


What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social networking application that relies heavily on images and their sources – called a pin. Those pins can then be collected and organized into ‘boards’ to keep all your relevant pins in one place.

You may have heard it used for things like recipes, wedding planning, DIY projects and photography. But it can be tailored to pretty much anything that needs a collection of images used for inspiration or resources.

How can you use Pinterest for your writing?

Pinterest can be used for a variety of different writer-ly ways including marketing of your book or blog. But that could be a post in and of itself, and first you need a written novel.

So today we are going to concentrate on using Pinterest pins and boards to transform the story in your head onto the page.

For reference as we chat, feel free to check out the board for me latest work-in-progress, The Blood Between Us.


One of the main ways Pinterest is used for writers is to create aesthetic boards which capture the overall tone (feel and look) of your novel. Think about what you’d like to see on the book’s cover. Dark and scary? Bright and romantic?

Inspiration boards can also be sort of a catch-all of anything that reminds of you of your story. For example, mine includes pictures that evoke specific items, themes, settings or even quotes within the novel as well as the overall creepy, magical mood.


You can also break inspiration boards into specific parts of your novel: harnessing the essence of a character, a place, or anything that needs additional detail.


There is a reason why screenwriters develop storyboards to show the movie’s progression. You can do the same with Pinterest to create a sort of visual outline for your novel.

Once you have a skeleton of your novel’s outline, find images that represent each scene. Often a picture, GIF or video can summarize the scene so much more easily from all ways of looking at it: it shows the scene, it channels an emotion, it portrays an action. So scrolling through your Pinterest storyboard could potentially tell the story better than a five page outline.


If you look at the images above, they likely won’t mean much to anyone but me. But if you are worried about giving away the plot, you can set your boards to “secret” so that no one but you can see the pins and also to keep it spoiler-free for your readers.

If you aren’t sure where to start with your written outline, you can also use Pinterest to work backward: pin images that fit within your overall story and then go back through and work whatever that pin elicits into your outline. I pinned the image of a fire that spoke to me and not only incorporated that into Jessa’s fiery personality but I also ended up burning down a building in an early chapter. So there’s that.

If you are a pantser – or you think that feels like a lot of work, which it is – you don’t have to do this for every scene. Maybe just a few that have been percolating in your mind as you’ve thought about your story or more random ideas. Or stick with the inspirational aesthetic board which could accomplish the same goal.


You need sensory details to make your reader feel like they are really in the scene, seeing through the eyes of your main character.

But if you are writing outside of your own day to day, it’s hard to know what exactly to show in some of the smaller details. And sometimes I have a hard time making things up out of thin air which could pose a problem… If it wasn’t for Pinterest!

I recently wrote a scene that takes place at a Mardi Gras Ball, and I was having the hardest time thinking of what each character should wear. I searched Pinterest for formal gowns and instantly had hundreds of options to choose from.


But fashion isn’t the only thing you can use this method for. Locations, character pictures, plants and animals, cars, etc. It could even be used to create your fantasy world once you have a general idea. Castles by the sea, rolling hills, historical costuming, or mythical creatures.

The possibilities are endless, and describing from an existing image is so much easier than starting from scratch.

Pinterest recently and FINALLY added an option to divide your boards into sections, and for anal organizers like me, it’s been a God-send. Take advantage by grouping pins by category.


Now I do most of my research the old fashioned way – through books and notes – but I will occasionally come across an article on Pinterest that is too good not to bookmark.

Hence a Research Board! You can also import other websites directly into Pinterest with their browser buttons, and then all your research is in one place and accessible from any device.

So now that I’ve convinced you to use Pinterest to improve and enhance your novel, it’s time to learn how to actually create a board for your novel and find the perfect pins! And this post from Cait over at Paper Fury does it better than I ever could!

But be careful – Pinterest can be a bit of a time suck. While it’s a fantastic tool, don’t forget to set a timer and actually go write!

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