Anna Questerly

Anna Questerly
Bookseller and bibliophile turned author, Anna Questerly writes medieval fiction and fairy tales for smart kids and young hearts. For adults, she creates Utopian fantasy as A.J. Questerly.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Managing Your Muse Part 3 PowerPoint

Managing Your Muse
Part 3


After many years of creating sales and training presentations, I’ve discovered how to use PowerPoint as a power tool for visualization and motivation for my novel, Pangaea.

When I wrote The Minstrel’s Tale, I had the somewhat spooky assistance of the actor, Patrick Stewart’s voice in my head. His voice was that of my main character, Amos Questerly, the minstrel, and he often simply dictated what I should write. I really never saw Amos in my mind, but his voice made him real to me. I knew him as well as a blind person knows someone they may have never seen with their eyes, but nonetheless knows intimately.

I guess that makes me an ‘auditory author’ instead of a ‘visual’ one. I tend to hear my characters instead of seeing them. Don’t get me wrong, I get a general sense of what my characters look like and what their setting is like, but unlike some of my favorite authors, I don’t really see it in my head very well. Instead of blind, maybe extremely near-sighted is a more apt description of my handicap.

This auditory method worked well for me in The Minstrel’s Tale. It took place on Earth. We all know what Earth looks like, so I didn’t really need to see it to tell my tale.

Pangaea is another story. It’s a make-believe world. I had to create it. I needed a tool to allow me to visualize a world that did not exist and channeling Tolkien and J.K. Rowling didn’t seem to work.

I truly wish I could share my slideshow with you, but there are simply too many images still under copyright for me to do that. But worry not! I can explain it how you can build your own.

I knew what I wanted the world of Pangaea to be, but had no visual reference to wrap my mind around. This is a world which exists only in my imagination yet I could only grasp wispy images of what it would look like. I needed something more concrete, something I would be able to describe to my readers so we shared the same vision.

Pangaea is an advanced civilization who has learned to use magic. To get an idea of what I was trying to describe, think Star Trek meets Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

I searched for alien architecture and landscape images in Google and found a few which came close to what I wanted. Then I delved further looking for elven architecture images and discovered more paintings and pictures I could use. Although none really captured exactly what I was going for, they allowed me to meld and merge ideas into what I did want. I was beginning to see Pangaea!

I saved these into a PowerPoint slide show and made that my screen saver. Now whenever I pass by my open laptop, Pangaea beckons me to return. Talk about motivation!

This worked so well, I took it a step further. I searched for images of my fictional characters. Of course, I didn’t find them exactly, but I did hit on a few close enough and, with a bit of imagination, I was able to really see my characters. I added these to my PowerPoint slide show as well.

 The most exciting thing was when I discovered two very different pictures of a certain actress. Although this woman didn’t really look like my main character, these two images together, captured my heroine’s character arc perfectly!

I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it was to see the before and after of her right there on my laptop.
By using Powerpoint in this way, it was if I was given a prescriptive pair of author glasses. Now, not only can I hear my characters but I can see them. I can see their world, their homes, their clothing. I can see it all!

Even if you don’t need a pair of PowerPoint glasses, the motivation factor alone is worth the effort of creating your own slideshow. We all know the hardest part of writing a novel is putting our butt in the chair. When your world calls to you from a silent screen, it’s a bit harder to ignore.

My only advice is that you not try to search for exact images. You probably won’t find them anyway and you can waste a lot of valuable writing time sorting through all Google has to offer. Find something close enough, and then add a liberal dose of your own imagination to make it fit. 


  1. I never thought of using power point in this way! Thank you for the idea! Thank you so much!

  2. Hi, Kailan. I discovered it accidentally, but I love it seeing it every day. Thanks!

  3. Being an author as well, I find this article very enlightening by using it in developing a new world. I believe this offers great insight into the creative process. You are certainly on the right track... Howie Bell

  4. Thanks, Howie! I'm glad you found it helpful.By the way, I noticed, your Simple Circles book is getting great reviews online! Nice job.