Although my ideas, for what makes a good story, are much as they have always been, how and where I go about getting there has evolved and may again as that's what life is about, isn't it? I remember writing many books with only a dreamlike image in my head for what the characters looked like-- even though I write, what I consider, character-driven stories. I used words to describe their appearances, how others saw them, but I didn't have the image of a movie star or someone I knew behind those words.
Publishing changed all that when a cover was required and eventually book trailers where I needed images to show a potential reader something about the book. That led to discovering royalty free image sites. I started out rather loosely with those but today have a pretty professional view of them-- that is I don't buy individual photos but rather set aside favorites until I have enough to justify a subscription of a week.
What I could not use for trailers or covers were any of those on Google's image search site. Those there are not available for commercial usage or if they are, they are too costly for an indie writer like myself. Photographers can be pretty unpleasant to writers of blogs or books who take their images without paying or at least permission-- sometimes they don't even own the rights. So I skipped looking through Google and depended on what my own photos and those image sites like CanStock or Jimmy Thomas.
That changed when I began to see how other writers used Google images, not to put out publicly but to inspire themselves. Inspiration isn't something you have to pay for, and it lets you have a wide variety of faces in your head when you are writing. It also though required going back to them now and again-- even if I had saved them to my computer.
When I got the idea of a bulletin board above my computer, I realized I could use photos of images from anywhere as they weren't being used for my business (which is publishing my books).
Getting space above my computer required the rearranging of the area, moving a large Wenzel painting and a Navajo rug in our living room, changing a few things in our bedroom, but in the end, I found space for a lovely big board.
Currently I have been editing my older contemporary books. The images of hero and heroine are just as important in an edit, to be sure I am staying on track, as it would be in a first draft. Seeing the faces above me reminds me what the hero and heroine see. It keeps me synced to the story in a way I wasn't before.
What I like about this system is I can easily change the images to suit each story. If I don't have the right face for a villain, I can print it off and tack it up there to keep in mind their dastardliness. I have inspiration above me all the time and no clutter. It actually looks good from the sofa and chairs in the more living room end of the living room. This set up is perfect for a writer of character driven stories.
Right now I am still playing with how I want the images to be arranged. I got this board started when editing the fifth of six of my Portland contemporaries. Second Chance involves a wildlife rehab center. I should that this editing has been hard, word by word work, but so far is only yielding what I would call the last swirl of frosting a cake. The changes I am making aren't major nor do they reflect goofs. They are just a better way to bring the story to life. The cake is solid. The frosting was fine, but that last swirl of the knife is what makes it look so good.
From Second Chance, I went straight to Hidden Pearl which begins in Portland but goes down the valley to the Umpqua River and country out of Roseburg-- all imaginary settings for my story but set in the reality of a real region.