What If? By Sharon Boyce

There is a quote I love from a movie called 'The Magic of Belle Isle.' Morgan Freeman stars as an invalid who was once a writer, but now sees no point in life. A young girl moves in next door, and when she finds out that he is a writer, she begs him to teach her how to write. He repeatedly turns her down, but she eventually wins him over. This is what he says to her:

'Imagination is a mysterious realm in which you get lost and may never be able to find your way out.'

Isn't that fabulous? What a wonderful concept - that imagination is a mysterious realm. It conjures up endless lists of possibilities. My own personal writing motto is 'You are only limited by your own imagination.'

What is imagination? By definition, imagination is (according to google):1) the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses

2) the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful

3) the part of the mind that imagines things

As writers we rely heavily on our imagination to come up with a story concept, then a plot, a conflict, a resolution; characters, settings…the list goes on. So what do we do when we are stuck and those creative juices just aren't flowing? How do we come up with an idea in the first place?

I'm going to share with you some very simple, yet effective tools that I learnt from a children's writing course I did a few years ago through the Australian College of Journalism.

1.  Pick your Character

Is your main character a boy or a girl? What age are they? What is their family and living situation? Is there something that person wants?

2.  What If?

Take an ordinary situation and ask this question, 'What if?'

What if your character goes to soccer training and instead of his usual team mates, he finds a team of aliens? What if your character wakes up in the morning and all the furniture is on the ceiling? What if your character gets to school and everyone is speaking a different language and he/she can't understand a word that is being spoken? What if your character can now read his dog's mind? What if your character wakes up and her whole family has disappeared without a trace?

See how easy it is? Are your creative juices starting to flow? If you are new to writing, don't be afraid to give it a go. The most important thing to do is to just start writing. Who knows where your character will end up? And with whom? And how? And why? Because after all what if? has an endless realm of possibilities… 

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Comments 1

David Lewis on Tuesday, 31 October 2017 10:26

Wow Sharon. Love your succinct, imaginative (!!) and practical blog about imagination, which is the first prerequisite for creative writing. I've sometimes found that when I start with a particular character as the protagonist, I find another character more appealing and interesting, and they become the focus of a story. But you are right, start with a character and a what if? if you are stuck. Thank you for sharing. And happy imagining.

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Wow Sharon. Love your succinct, imaginative (!!) and practical blog about imagination, which is the first prerequisite for creative writing. I've sometimes found that when I start with a particular character as the protagonist, I find another character more appealing and interesting, and they become the focus of a story. But you are right, start with a character and a what if? if you are stuck. Thank you for sharing. And happy imagining.
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