Saturday, April 12, 2014

Imagination for dummies

Fiction writing isn’t making pretty patterns with words. Before you write fiction, you have to imagine.  It all has to be real in your head—scenes, characters, the whole shebang. It’s informed by logic, but it isn’t logic. (Many a story has been nailed to the cross of outlines and research.) Ideally, you pay attention to life, stuff a lot of facts and observations in your head, and then it all (magically!) turns into a movie you watch behind your eyes. (You have to see that movie first before you write it – rarely, you see it while you write it.) The best example I can think of? Stephen King’s description of Billy Nolan setting up the blood-filled buckets meant to pour on Carrie’s head at the prom. He gives you specific, concrete description of events unfolding in space and time: obtaining the pig’s blood; sneaking into the gym with a shim made in shop class; screwing eye hooks into the beams above the stage; arranging ropes and pulleys; setting up the twin buckets ready to pour at the tug of a rope. King saw it all happen before he wrote it. His readers see it for that reason.

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