Wednesday, September 2, 2015
THE INTRICACIES OF THE WRITER'S MIND
Edwin D Ferretti III
"Man consists of body, mind and imagination. His body is faulty, his mind untrustworthy, but his imagination has made him remarkable." John Masefield (1874-1967), English writer.
The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, 1902
No matter what genre you chose to write, all writers' boast a common bond; a creative mind that's overflowing with amazing and fanciful stories. Our mind can store and retrieve information such as when we answer a test question or remember a birthday. Non-writers don't question this ability; as long as they have a mental input that they can draw on and retrieve when needed.
A writer's mind is different and contains doors that a normal person wouldn't think to knock on. Writers not only knock they force open those doors to answer questions such as what if. As we begin to write a story, we discover that these doors, once opened never close. Like Rod Sterling's Twilight Zone series, writers can draw on and use their conceived story of sight, sound and imagination to take their readers on a journey and let them engage in action/adventure in the distant future or mingle with Cleopatra in the past.
What is imagination from a writer's perspective? I could give you a dictionary answer: Ability to utilize (what if), the creative part of the mind, individual resourcefulness or creative acts that take what if and bring your story alive, real and believable for your readers. My answer would include all the above and more.
Imagination allows us to experience the future, peek into the past or travel light-years to a distant planet with an alien presence. For me, this process begins with what if I could...or what if my protagonist did this. In the above paragraphs, we have the beginnings of a writer's special tool kit. I say special because this tool kit doesn't contain a computer, books on writing, paper, pencils or writing groups/friends. It contains our working mind, a lot of what ifs and an audacious imagination. Proper use of these basic resources let us open the physical tool kit and begin writing our story.
Writers use their mind to conceptualize a great story, one that their readers can't put down until the last word is absorbed into their own minds. Have you ever asked yourself why readers gravitate toward several different science fiction/fantasy authors, instead of one science fiction/fantasy author? Why don't they just close their eyes, grab a book off the SiFi/Fantasy shelf and read it? My mind asked me that very same question a few years ago. I realized that I didn't have an overabundance of correct answers. I harbored the common conceptions after reading the first chapter; the plot was to slow (boring), to many points of view (confusing), scenes were disjointed/jerky or just unbelievable and poor use of dialogue. On the other hand, the authors that I liked to read rated these comments: this author knows how to move his or her story along with what if/imaginative action-filled scenes, or I like the way this author's characters interacted with each other pushing the story toward an unforgettable ending. My favorite is, the story line allowed me to exit my reality and enter the world created by the author, sympathize with the main characters and dream of being a hero.
The questions you should ask yourself are: how can what ifs and imagination help you construct an overwhelming story. The answer is simple; what if opens the door to unlimited possibilities, and imagination allows you to explore new and creative ways to design your story.
Here is an example of what I'm writing about. Suppose an author (a-hum) asks, what if there is a fifth dimension, and then incorporates it into his story.
A fifth dimension, a normal/non-writer might ask. I only know of three dimensions, width, length and height. Where did the fourth dimension spring from...much less a fifth one; this is unbelievable?
Remember what I said above about the what if question opening a door where your imagination can take over. Doing a little research our author discovered that some scientists speculate that in addition to the three dimensions listed above a fourth dimension exists that is a mirror image of our reality. A light bulb illuminates in our writer's mind. Our intrepid author walks boldly through the unlocked door—and suddenly realizes if a mirror image of our reality exists, then there must be a greater force that prevents this fourth dimension from becoming our reality.
Taking this a step further, our brave author explores more of the room that he unlocked and asks another question. What can I do with the dimension that I have dreamed up to enhance my story? A voice enters his mind...don't enter the fourth dimension because you'll break the universe; use the fifth dimension as a faster way to teleport to a specific destination. I frequently hear voices urging my protagonist in different directions. Does this mean that I'm crazy, nah? It means that my imagination is working.
I've talked about what if and imagination and ask you, does that mean that the intricacies of the writer's mind are always moving your story along? Are there roadblocks to this imaginative thought process? Some of you will answer yes and others no. What about writers block some might ask; that interrupts my writing. This I'll discuss in my next post.
What does your special tool kit include?