Writing Out Loud

Finding Story Ideas Through Pinterest

Irish Castle Photo

As an author of fantasy fiction I’m always on the look out for story ideas, and I’m often inspired by the wonderful and magical-seeming places right here on our own version of Earth. I found this incredible photo on Pinterest, on the boards of a lady called Robin Lee. I don’t know you, Robin, but thank you for this wonderful photo and the story ideas generated from it.

Castles, and big houses generally, often feature in my stories. Arriana’s Trial has a castle of a very special nature :)

I have no idea where the castle in the photo is, beyond being somewhere in Ireland. I don’t know how old it is, or what its history is. All I know about it are the feelings of wonder is creates, and the possible storylines that spring from those feelings.

Back in the days when I used to teach fiction writing, beginning students would ask about finding ideas for stories. Others would complain of writer’s block and say their minds went blank whenever they sat down to write. One sure-fire way I found of easing blocked writers back into the writing habit, was to give them photos or objects and ask them to write about what they saw.

If I was doing this exercise with the above photo, I’d write about:


Look at the little tower standing before the bigger one. Was it a lookout tower? A prison block? An armoury or the servants quarters? And what about the bigger, squat, windowless tower in front of that. What went on there? My imagination could provide answers to these questions and from those answers a story would emerge.


I love the fact that you can see a person in the picture, which gives some idea of the scale and size of the towers. It’s a manageable castle, a family fortress, and the generations who defended it against marauders are already coming to life in various story ideas. I might place it close to the border between two warring kingdoms as the lone defence in a bleak and bloody fight for control and supremacy.


Alternatively, I might take the reflection as the starting point for my story. The perfection of the reflection speaks to me of alternative worlds. The gateway to this one would, naturally, be beneath the surface of the moat. Tantalisingly visible from both above and below the water, the intangible membrane between the two worlds beckons to the inhabitants of both. Oh, the possibilities.

What story ideas does the photo give you? If you’re looking for something to write or you need to get going again after a dry spell, meditate on this picture for a while and listen to the suggestions your imagination makes.



I’ve since discovered that this is Blarney Castle. Visit the official site here.

Source: 500px.com via Deborah on Pinterest

11 thoughts on “Finding Story Ideas Through Pinterest

  1. Liz

    I love this article! I do pin things to my own boards on Pinterest for this reason, but I rarely go looking at other peoples’ boards for that. Great idea!

    1. Deborah Jones Post author

      Jen, thank you! It’s odd the way several people seem to get the same idea at the same time. I think there is some kind of mystical pool of ideas floating around in the ether, and you just have to be tuned in to the frequency to access them. Then again, maybe that’s just the whimsical side of me talking :)

  2. Cheryl

    Deborah, I first looked at the picture and thought how absolutely gorgeous! It must be quite the adventure being an author of fantasy fiction.
    I really enjoyed reading all of your ideas on the photo and just the entire exercise that you went through. What a great way to teach children how to begin to write using their imagination.

    I do not remember doing this in school and I am sure that my kids don’t do it but I wish they would.
    Thank you!


    1. Deborah Jones Post author

      Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl! Writing fantasy is a new adventure every day :) Kids naturally embrace a world where talking owls or magic wands are part of everyday existence. I’ve always thought it should be encouraged rather than stifled.

  3. Phyllis Harbinger

    Love your post, Deborah and your subject. You can actually find a link back to the photo original through google. Here are the directions to do so.
    Here is a link to a page that shows you all the different ways you can do the reverse image search:
    This is the way that I do the image search:
    -I go to this site: http://images.google.com/imghp?hl=en
    -I click on the small camera icon next to the magnify glass icon
    -I make the browser window a little smaller so I can see my desktop
    -I find the image where it is stored on my computer (if it is on my desktop I find it there, if it is in a folder, I open the folder and have it side by side with the browser so I can see both clearly)
    -I then take the image I want and literally drag it over to the browser and drop it in the box below “google” (until it says “drop it here”) and let go.
    -Many results will pop up and you can either find information about the image in the many results found below, or you can look at the very top where it says “find other sizes of this image” and click on either small medium or large and find a larger pixel ratio of your photo with better resolution.

    Hope this helps you discover more about this lovely castle

    1. Deborah Jones Post author

      Arleen, lots of my stories have their roots in pictures. There is just something about a picture that triggers my storytelling muscle :) Try it, it’s a great way to get an idea off the ground.

  4. Carol Steinberg

    Hey, Deborah, stopping by from UBC. I was an English and Art major in college, but I see I made the right decision ultimately to go with the painting because I’m more interested in the colors and shapes of this photo than any story which might come to mind, and unfortunately, even with your great prompts, one doesn’t. Pinterest does have great photos but I wouldn’t feel right using any of them for painting because they’re not mine and I like to paint from life anyway. Still, I love the idea of imagining stories from the photos, especially one like this.

    1. Deborah Jones Post author

      I’d love to paint, and have tried, but just can’t. It’s just as well we don’t all think alike and have the same talents eh? Painting from life is a real skill. I’m quite envious :) Thanks for dropping by.

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