Toothless Letter IWhere does every story start? With a little bit of this.

Even if a story is not fantasy, it still all starts with some sparks of inspiration, followed up by a good whack of imagination. Why? Because a story is just that, a story. It hasn’t happened in real life (most of the time, we’ll ignore biographies and the like) so even if it’s set in the modern world, in a place that you know well, you have to imagine the story. You have to create the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations that exist in your books in your head.

You have to imagine the characters. Who they are, what they do, how they react to events in the plot. You have to create a plot for them to follow.

And the setting. Well, if it’s set in the real world, great. Set in a place you know? Fantastic, you can draw from memory. But if it’s not? Go do some research on that place. Maybe visit it if you can, google maps it, read travel guides. But what if it isn’t a real place? Like most fantasy works, it could be set in a fictional world, completely made up. Well that’s where the imagination part really comes in.

Out of all the books I currently have on the go (so first draft or later stages), none of them are set in the real world. And only one has a level of technology that could be considered modern. So what do I have to do? I have to imagine all the various places that the books go to. I have to make maps, decided climates, terrain, culture, people, lots and lots of layers that might only make up a sentence or two in the book, but are quite important to the feel of the book in my head.

BV5NoP7IQAAd8AeI have what most people would call an over-active imagination. It’s rare that I’m not thinking about the characters and scenes from one of the many, many ideas in my head. This only increases when I listen to music.

Indeed, if I am particularly stuck on a scene in a book I will plug in the headphones, turn up the music, and gently spin on my office chair. I don’t know why I spin, but it’s fun and seems to help the thinking process.

An imagination is a precious thing, especially to a writer. It is pretty much the starting point for everything that we do, as we can’t get it down on paper, if it’s not come into our heads first. The worlds inside my head are just as fascinating and complex as the one out here. Sometimes even more so.

inside my head