Posts tagged imagination
Posts tagged imagination
A woman plugs her lamp into some dirt outside so she can read at night. The lamp works perfectly. How did this come about and what happens next?
If you write a story based on this prompt, let me know. I’d love to read it! ^_^
Centralia was a real town in Pennsylvania that had a horrible accident. A coal fire started, which sent up choking fumes and caused random sinkholes. Everybody was ordered to evacuate, though a handful of people still live there. You can learn more about it here.
Several things about Centralia seem poetic and inspirational to me. The whole concept of a ghost town filled with abandoned buildings is rich with ideas. There’s the theme of man-made structures slowly succumbing to nature. Stories could be built around people evacuating. Probably even more stories could be built around the few who stayed. What made them stay, and how do they live? The coal fire itself is interesting in a way as well.
Today’s post is a prompt. Write something inspired by Centralia, Pennsylvania. It doesn’t have to be actually set in the city; if the facts about Centralia give you an idea for a story set in another country or another planet, go for it.
If you write something based on this prompt, please let me know because I would love to read it! :)
I’m not going to post a tip tomorrow or Sunday because I want to focus more time this weekend on writing. Every time I get on Tumblr, I’m like a magpie in the land of shiny baubles. Hours of my time mysteriously disappear. It’s like they’re stolen.
In fact, tonight’s post shall be a prompt on that very thing. Write a detective story where the criminal is somebody who literally steals time. If you actually write something based on this prompt, let me know, because I’d love to read it!
Start writing a story in past tense. Halfway through, write a sentence along the lines of “The present moment happens.” Then write the rest of the story in future tense. Please let me know if you actually do this, because I’d love to read it!
The follower of the day is heylushhavefun.
Write about a modern, common experience like going to the grocery store as if your book is going to be published in the nineteenth century. What modern technologies do you explain outright? Is there any technology you let the readers infer the purpose of? How do you show the cultural differences between your story and your readers?
Write an explanation for why such a large percentage of the human body is water. Use any reason but the actual scientific, logical one. Was it some historical accident? Did magic come into play?
Let me know if you actually do this, because I’d love to read it! ^_^
The follower of the day is whatsaysthefool.
Do you ever think of a couple of really good characters and a great setting, but have no plot to go with them? Maybe you think of a wonderful premise, but can’t think of anything besides the premise. Here are a couple of tips for fleshing out your ideas.
1. Tell somebody else your ideas. While you’re talking, your mind will fill in some of the gaps so that you can present it to them in a coherent way. Sometimes even thinking about how you would explain your ideas to somebody gives them more substance. Saying them out loud also helps solidify some of the details in your mind that you were iffy about before. If you’re lucky, the person you tell your ideas to will ask further questions.
2. Pace while you think. I don’t know why, but it helps me a lot to walk around while I’m trying to flesh out my ideas. Maybe it’s because since the rest of my body is happy and occupied, my brain can focus on my stories better.
3. Think about it right before you go to sleep. My best ideas and plot details come from the times when I’m almost asleep. When I’m lying down with my eyes closed and my brain half-shut, the greatest things pop up in my mind. I don’t know if it’s the same way with you, but it’s worth a shot.
4. Pick a random object and think about how your idea relates to it. If your idea doesn’t relate to it, make it relate. It helps to have something physical to remind you of your idea. Bonus points if your object is complex and makes you think of your idea in a new way.
The follower of the day is anonymouscatastrophe.
Do you ever see someone smile and think, Oh, that smile makes him look like he was broken at one point, but has recently found hope in something small?
Yeah, neither do I. Fictional characters do this a lot, and it bugs me. The author wants to show a complex emotion that can’t be communicated through mere facial expression. However, the person experiencing the emotion is not the narrator. The author can’t think of any possible way that the narrator could figure out that emotion without having them ogle the exact contours of the other person’s face and get psychic readings on their emotions.
There are a lot of people who have trouble with common body language expressions. Books cheat by giving us the unique subtleties and layers of expressions that relate to complicated emotions.
“Then how do I let people know about those emotions?” you might ask.
Somebody’s mind is like a room. You wouldn’t let your characters just guess what a closed room looks like without any other knowledge, would you? If someone openly talks about the depths of their emotions, they’re opening the door to the room. A facial expression is like a tiny, dirt-smudged peephole. It can show simple things like “happy” or “sad.” Faces are pretty flexible, so they can also show more complex things like “bitter” or “wistful” as well. You’re pushing things when you describe somebody’s expression as “nostalgic” or something similarly complicated. Faces can certainly not show anything like “determined to do something they know is wrong so that they can save somebody close to them.”
Like a closed room, there are other ways to see what is inside. If the narrator is curious, they can knock on the room’s door by asking the person how they’re feeling. Maybe the narrator is shy or scared, so they ask other people what’s in the room. Just remember: having the narrator infer another’s complex emotions is like having the narrator infer what the next room looks like inside.
The follower of the day is pourthelight.
I see far too many science fiction and fantasy works set on another world that give me only a handful of bizarre creatures. One or two of them will be things you would expect on another world, but the rest will have close analogs here on Earth.
You might enjoy such things, but when I see another planet, I want to see an entire other planet of new flora and fauna, not just a couple of oddities amidst a sea of normalcy. Ever since third grade, I’ve been designing places with a plethora of bizarre creatures. Here’s how.
Step 1: Make an environment, devoid of life.
Think of all the things that make up your environment. You’re going to want to do this one biome at a time, because most creatures don’t live in both the desert and the rainforest. Some things, like distance from the sun(s), will shape the entire planet, but you should still have several different biomes on a single planet. Mountains, plains, deserts, hilly areas with rich soil, lakes, and islands are examples. Don’t put any life in yet, but consider every possible aspect.
Step 2: Make a common plant.
In the time of the dinosaurs, ferns were everywhere. Now, grass covers a lot of Earth’s land space. Extreme arctic regions often don’t have grass, though, and dense forests sometimes don’t allow enough light to reach the ground for grass to grow. With all of the aspects of your environment in mind, think of something that would thrive there. What would it have evolved to absorb the most possible nutrients from your environment? Depending on how far your planet is from the sun, plants might have different colors. A very faraway planet might have black plants to absorb all possible light, while a planet in the same general area as Earth would probably have green plants. A place with good soil might produce plants with plumper roots. Don’t think, What would grass be like on my planet? Instead, think, What configuration should my plants have that best suits the environment? The idea is to make something that doesn’t look like any Earth plant. A non-Earthlike plant should spring naturally from any place with a different environment than the ones on Earth.
Step 3: What eats that plant?
Create a creature specifically designed to eat that plant. Every part of their body should be created with that plant in the front of your mind and the environment in the back of your mind. You might have to make small modifications to the plant because it would have evolved to evade the creature. You also might find that more than one creature can be designed with the consumption of the plant in mind. This is wonderful.
Step 4: Expand the food web.
From there, create more and more species designed to eat the previous ones. Think of some plants that would grow in the odd little crevices and corners of your environment and create animals that would eat them. Fill every niche that you can think of. For example, there might be a creature that eats only roots or one that that scavenges on dead meat. Don’t forget your omnivores! You can then do this to every other biome on your planet.
There you go. This way, life on your planet should end up looking nothing like life on Earth. If you want a specific creature, you can design an environment and ecosystem around it.
The follower of the day is mentalroadtrip.
I’ve seen several posts about knowing things about your story and characters that won’t actually make it into your writing. Many of them, in my opinion, are utterly worthless (eye color doesn’t affect somebody’s personality atall, guys, and it doesn’t even affect the way they’re treated unless you’re making your own culture where it does. Knowing a character’s eye color is like knowing the exact number of molecules in one of their hairs.)
In contrast, here’s something incredibly useful, in my opinion, if you want to get a full understanding of your characters, your plot, and your setting: the last few hundred years.
Backstory is usually limited to the direct reasons that things are the way they are. What are the reasons for those reasons, though? This is vital information that, though it might not actually make it into the story, you need to know.
Say, for example, you’re writing about hostile aliens attacking the Earth. What makes them hostile? Their very biological structure. Why did their structure evolve that way? In response to fierce competition from other predators. Why was the competition so fierce? There was little prey. Then why did so many predators evolve? A similar line of questions could be asked for why they are invading Earth instead of another planet. Many authors would stop at knowing that the aliens are hostile because it’s in their biology.
For every answer you get, ask another question. Do it for as long as you can. Hundreds of stories had to happen for your story to take place. Ignoring them is kind of sad. There’s always a level deeper. The best stories have thousands of years of history to be hinted at.
The follower of the day is butlerxartemis.