I’ve always used playlists as a way to get into my manuscript drafts, but I recently discovered another way to help myself focus: art! I’m sure you’re all shocked, given the number of posts I’ve written about artists I’ve found on DeviantArt. Instead of telling you how to use art to craft a novel aesthetic image (which is really just a productive way to procrastinate), I’ll show you how I found the pictures for my work-in-progress novella.
First, my two main characters, Rona and Lief. Rona is a red-headed Scandinavian warrior who grew up traipsing the Seven Seas on her father’s ship. Since hair color can be tricky to match in aesthetic searches, I’m sticking with a blond version of Rona I found by Raph04.
Keyword trail: Viking pirate, pirate, Viking warrior, warrior woman, Viking warrior woman*
Lief is a merman cursed with magical charm biologically intended to woo bloodthirsty sirens. He has always been Chris Hemsworth in my head, because reasons. The most difficult part was finding a version of Chris that leaned towards the idea in my head instead of towards Thor or a red carpet appearance. After years of scrolling, I found this drawing by Angie-Farewell.
Keyword trail: Hemsworth, Chris Hemsworth
Now to the setting. I like to pick a few images that evoke the settings or emotional motifs of the story. Since I’ve written the first draft, I know I need a ship, a dangerous ocean scene, and possibly a Greek-style temple on an oasis island.
I love this digital painting by elbardo—it shows the perfect mood of a scene when Rona and Lief think they’ve finally found a safe place to get out of the ocean.
Keyword trail: ship, ship on ocean, Viking ship
For my second mood picture, I tracked down an underwater scene that goes almost perfectly with my final scenes. It's a digital painting by Marta Nael.
Keyword trail: ocean, dark ocean, evil ocean, underwater
Google Images is often better for certain searches—and that’s how I discovered Charles Hermans’ gorgeous painting of Circe the Temptress. She’s the basis for my primary villain, and I love the look on this young woman’s face.
Keyword trail: island, Circe, Circe island, Circe’s island
At this point, I need the rest of my villains—the onslaught of mythical monsters that Rona and Lief have to fight their way through.
One of the deadliest predators in the sea: an evil siren by M. Thompson.
Blazbaros’ version of the Japanese umibozu, known to capsize ships:
A Commander 2014 fan-art version of the kraken, by velinov:
And finally, an evil water horse someone pinned on Pinterest via a website that sadly hid the name of the original artist (if you can track them down please let me know!). This one was difficult to find, especially since I combined a couple of myths to create this piranha-shark-sea serpent-horse combination.
Keyword trail: water horse, waterhorse, hippocampus, evil hippocampus
There you have it! If you have writing to do but just aren't feeling it, tell everyone you're working on a novel aesthetic! It's the perfect way to get your head back into gear.
Michelle is terrified by the thought of a piranha-shark-sea serpent-horse and would like to apologize to herself and others for creating such a monster.
*Juuuuuust a little rant here. BIKINIS ARE NOT ARMOR. STOP DRAWING WOMEN RUNNING AROUND IN THE SNOW WEARING THREE SQUARE INCHES OF CHAIN MAIL FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY.