Fiction 101: Imagination

Let’s get something cleared up before we start. Try not to look at fiction writing like some sort of tall, hard-as-hell-to-climb mountain. Doing that wouldn’t help you in any way. We will approach these classes brick by brick, and I promise to be as simple as possible in my explanations and examples. I strongly believe that when we step back to view our progress after all we’ve learned, we will be confident of what we can write. Wanna bet?

Writing is putting down words or thoughts unto something physical you can read. Notice terms like words and thoughts? The average human being is capable of achieving both. We think and talk every day. It’s the ‘putting down’ part a large number of us ignore; spinning our thoughts into an actual story is even rarer.

I have had a number of people ask me, “How do you know what would happen next when you write? How do you imagine a story?”

This question never ceases to amaze me. I assumed imagining stories came naturally to a good percentage of people but when I saw the frequency with which I was asked the question, I began to think differently. Maybe it’s not always a show in people’s heads.

Hold up! Before you start saying stuff like “I knew it! Writing fiction is a special ability given to 2% of the worlds population”, calm down and try this out.

This is an exercise I came up with when a curious Uber driver claimed he couldn’t imagine a story. Once we are done, we will see if you truly lack imaginative abilities or you simply assumed.

Think of something you own that you would hate to lose. Have you thought of it? Good. Let’s assume it’s a car. You just got yourself a gorgeous Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2019 model. The car is parked downstairs while you’re with a friend on the third floor of his office complex. Conversation is going well until a sudden thought crashes into your mind. Did I engage the car lock? It becomes impossible to concentrate. Your mind keeps going to your car, possibilities running wild in your head.

Let’s step on the brake pedal here. You see what your paranoid mind was doing? That’s imagination—weaving all sorts of possibilities. It’s not rocket science, guys. If you can imagine it, you can write it.

Keep spinning possibilities. What if this happens? What if that happens? Allow your mind to imagine things go horribly wrong or beautifully right. Humans imagine every day; the difference between non-writers and writers is that the latter bother to write it down.

One more thing. There is hardly ever a truly original idea, it’s how well you can imagine and twist already existing ideas in your own unique way that make ideas look new, shiny and exciting.

Tips

  • Allow your mind wander and weave a story for the sake of it. Try not to stifle your imagination because you’re an ‘adult’ with ‘real life’ problems. Free yourself.
  • Write down your ideas.
  • Keep a notebook or notes in your device. App stores have truckloads of those.
  • Revisit your notes as often as possible. Add ideas, rework stuff, move things around. Approach it as a fun exercise. Doing this frequently will make you enjoy the creative process.
  • Stop thinking your story idea is dull or stupid… seriously, stop.
  • Read the novel companion you selected for this course. Reading a well written novel will help you understand what’s taught here at a faster rate.

Activity:

Think of an event (even a personal mundane memory counts) and twist it. Imagine something else happened. Write it down. Doesn’t matter if your writing is riddled with mistakes, what’s important is that you are doing the actual writing. Also doesn’t matter how outlandish your story is. Just write it. Try to hit at least 150 words. Can you do that? I’m sure you can. 

Next lesson: POV (Part one)

2 thoughts on “Fiction 101: Imagination

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  1. Nicely done missy…

    You are right about writers being the only ones who bother to pen down their would imaginations.

    I mean… What adult wants a constant reminder that his/her mind is one screw short of a run-away kite in a thunderstorm?

    Keep up the good work missy, I will be sure to take more notes in the next class.

    Liked by 1 person

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