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How your imagination works (when writing):

I'm quite sure many of us are aspiring writers, putting the imagery of our imagination to words for share. As we write, each of us imagine things uniquely — whether we hear the telling accents of our character's voices, or the sleek designs of our technology, or the haunting gothic atmosphere of a post-apocalyptic place (complete with stale marble and rotting stench). Sometimes we like to look out the window for inspiration, or we listen to good music, or tap our feet to some unheard tune.

For me, I first have a very broad mood whirring in my head — which sets up the spark, the catalyst for my creativity's drive. Then I picture one little thing, like the folds of a dress, or the glow of a lamppost. Then, from this single thing, the rest of the picture begins to fill itself in like a jigsaw puzzle — along with the feeling of rapidly juggling and connecting one thing with another.

Then I picture the essences of my characters, whether she is a clever brat, or he is an action junkie, and likewise with what I said before, the character starts to fill in itself naturally. It is like drawing freeform, or shaping pottery — you get in with the flow.

From there, typing it all out comes as a breeze for me.. et voila!

What about you? How does your creativity process whirr?

 2 almyki, Tue, 8th Feb '11 10:34:06 PM from Maryland, USA
I walk a lot. My basement is pretty spacious, and I can blast my music pretty high without bothering others, so I can pace the floor rocking to whatever music I feel like while coming up with ideas. I will pace, dance, snap my fingers, pose in front of the mirror, and in general just keep myself moving and doing stuff and following the music to keep myself busy.

I come up with my scenes and dialogue best this way, and it's almost like I can slip into each character's skin and spend hours just tossing around ideas. I tend to talk to myself, mouth or even voice out loud the more interesting or impactful lines I come up with, without even thinking about it. I tend to take lots of little 'breaks', coming back to the computer for five minutes or watching a bit of anime or reading or something, but very very short usually. I come up with tons of different variations that a single scene can follow, and usually work micro-to-macro. I often don't even really have a real plotline fleshed out yet, but try to take the pieces of character development and action I've made and later make something out of it. This... does not usually work out so great, it's a very hard step in the process, but sometimes it works swimmingly.

Alternatively, I work the other way, macro-to-micro, and sit at a computer desk or with a notebook and type out all the ideas I have, organize them into sheets and outlines and summaries. This way, I come up with tons of important details, have lots of cohesiveness, permanence, and I figure things out better both in broad strokes and singular consistency of story/character elements. But at the same time, that can be a bit of problem because it blocks me from taking advantage of my 'other' method, which I find freer, and more full of spirit and a natural 'living' quality.

I'd like to figure out a way to stitch these two processes together, as that would be ideal, but they act like oil and water so far. The stories I think up through my music-and-dance methods end up a jarbled mess of random unconnected scenes, and the stories I plan out I get stuck on and can only work on chronologically.

<3 ali
 3 Mark Von Lewis, Tue, 8th Feb '11 11:18:39 PM from Somewhere in Time Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
KCCO
Honestly I find I brainstorm better when drunk.
Run the red, won't stop at night, I don't care for traffic lights.
 4 drunkscriblerian, Tue, 8th Feb '11 11:44:17 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
[up]this.

Also, for the first bit I must be alone. For me, initial creative process is a lot like taking a dump; a messy process best not witnessed by other humans for reasons that make absolutely no sense.

After that initial raw outflow of creativity, I must discuss my ideas with someone. And by "discuss" I mean "Have someone sit and listen while I rant for several hours". Like most artists, my creative impulse is a selfish little bitch who tolerates no competing voices.

When creating characters, I must have privacy. Why? because while creating them, I must act them out. I must walk as them. I must talk as them. I must be allowed to try on whatever affectations/verbal overtones strike my fancy before I find the right one.

Yes, before anyone asks; I act out my female characters, even the girly ones. I walk, talk and act like them. Picture that if you must, but just remember; I've got the stones to do something like that in the pursuit of my artistic vision. Do you?

Creating is akin to giving birth, and like an infant, there exists a time when a new inspiration is too fragile to suffer the slings and stones of even well-meant criticism and suggestions. Make certain your vision is ready to be picked apart before offering it up for perusal by the masses.

/endrant
If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
 5 Stolen By Faeries, Wed, 9th Feb '11 12:46:29 AM from a sea of discontent.
Entrap me, Entrall me.
Well, first I see the seen all cloudy: I know what I want but not how to get it.

Then, I pace. As I pace the image becomes more clear, and flowing like a movie - usually the faster I pace the better I see. Like turning the cogs in a clock or something.

A lot of the time I'll mouth the lines, lean on the furniture, make random hand gestures, smirk (lots of that going on) as my characters would.

If I don't like how the character acted or if I can't get it out right, I find someone to bounce ideas off of.

But mainly it's the pacing... always pacing... never stop pacing...

edited 9th Feb '11 12:48:03 AM by StolenByFaeries

“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”
 6 Loni Jay, Wed, 9th Feb '11 4:00:34 AM from Australia Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
I tend to figure out characters by putting them in sutuations and imagining how they'd react. Sometimes I end up with about four characters from the same idea, just because they took different paths and somehow along the way turned into someone else.

I do a lot of thinking on public transport. Something about being able to sit still and watch scenery fly past helps. I think maybe it's because I don't have anything else to do, and yet because I'm moving I don't feel like I'm wasting time.

I'm not big on backgrounds and objects. I focus on character voices and character facial expressions, often to the detriment of everything else in the scene.
Be not afraid...
 7 Morven, Wed, 9th Feb '11 10:57:02 AM from Seattle, WA, USA
Nemesis
I don't tend to often physically act as my characters, but I imagine doing so. I've always been good at doing that, acting in the mind's eye. Public transit is good, or driving, or the shower or bath, or while lying half-awake.
A brighter future for a darker age.
 8 Mr AHR, Wed, 9th Feb '11 11:20:06 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Dammit Ali stole my routine. I pace. I blast music and I pace pace pace pace. And when I get a new breakthrough for my idea, I tend to pace while saying 'I'm a genius!'

Sometimes I let my ego get the better of me.
My imagining and my writing must remain two very distinct entities. I do my imagining during the planning stages and I don't really have a set "imagining time." There's no discipline behind it, it simply comes to me and I have to train myself to know when its there and when I can catch those ideas. I write the ideas down and make a detailed plan and then I write. The writing must follow a strict discipline and while I do occasionally stray from the plan while writing, I normally keep to it religiously. I just do what seems to fit the best.

Away on the wind~
I imagine all the time. It's really quite annoying, to be honest.

That said, I just ignore anything I come up with while actually writing unless it helps to build the scene.

Imagination is great for plot ideas. Not so great once you have the plot outlined and everything.
There are too many toasters in my chimney!
 11 Dec, Wed, 9th Feb '11 5:55:43 PM from The Dance Floor
Stayin' Alive
Its kinda odd that so many people pace. Not that I don't, because I'm always pacing when I've got some idea spinning in my head, but… eh. *shrugs*

When I'm thinking of a story, I'm usually focusing on:

A) The concept behind the story and the implications of the concept. Especially on how that effects the characters mindsets. This is also the stuff I usually end up researching the most. I look at other stories, usually searching trope pages and checking interesting examples, read mythology, folklore, Wiki Walk the Other Wiki, and will even visit the library and take hard copy notes.

After doing all that research and setting the stage for worldbuilding, I then start… err, monologuing to myself. I've digested all of the information, and now I have to present it — even if only to myself in my own head. My brain starts going in a loop, creating a lecture to present the facts using metaphors, anecdotes, jokes, body language of the lecturer, all sorts of careful explanations, repeating it over and over and layering over things until it becomes coherent. Sometimes this is done in-character, by someone in the story who actually knows what they're talking about, sometimes it isn't. Writing it down and "finishing" the lecture is also completely and utterly optional, and most of it will never really get into the story ether way.

I'll also write thing out a lot, especially if I'm feeling stuck. I'll list out all the qualities of the problem I'm facing, write down the questions to challenge my assumptions, come up with possible answers, and try to generally get to the heart of why something is wrong, even if I can't figure out how to fix it. This is usually where the scenes and events of the story start forming, as well.

B) Character interaction. Most of the time this happens after the characters have strong motivations, personalities, and relationships in my head. This takes a while, though, because its always a struggle for me to figure out what all three of these things are for each of the characters, and it usually only happens after I've ruminated on all the research from point A, even if I do know all the character names and roles beforehand. It is, however, fun as all get out once I start "getting" it.

But, if I don't have those three things, or at least the first two? Well, lets just say that writing anything is impossible, and the characters will be very one dimensional. It also makes writing the very beginning of a story hell ether way, because I've ether got too little to work with, or am too inspired with wanting to write something that has to happen in the middle of the story. A lot of words get thrown out because of this.

Also, one way or another, characters will start attaching themselves to songs and even particular artists I'm listening to. I haven't figured out how to make that help me while actually writing the scenes, but they are really useful for adding another layer of characterization onto a character. Listening to those artists and songs can also get me into a mood to think about my story.

C) Imagery. I suddenly picture something that looks awesome in my head, and then go with it. Since I am an artist, there is a lot of focus on lighting, angles, colors, perspective, movement, and that sort of thing, but I also often have a bit of a love affair with interesting metaphors. I also get a lot of sneaky foreshadowing that I don't expect popping up, which is always fun.

Most of my lengthier description is ether on something enthrallingly beautiful and graceful, or something jarring and frightening. I like making my description very visceral, often describing the atmosphere of the area and sprinkling it with smaller details using all the senses and how the character interacts with the setting. I'm also not above being a bit gory, and have gone so far as to describe people dying horribly and going into a lot of detail about it, even if only to underline how horrifying the situation is for the characters involved. Mixing up the setting with how the characters interact with and feel about it is also insanely fun.

This is where most of my description comes from, though not always to my benefit. Inspiration for this sort of thing is a tad sporadic, and I don't always want some charming piece of description, especially if it doesn't fit the mood. It also tends to stall the story a bit if not handled properly, which isn't always a good thing.

Half the time, if I especially like the imagery, I'll end up drawing it. Usually though, most of the drawings related to a story are to figure out what a character looks like and what clothes they wear, or maybe what their attacks look like. It also helps with staging, and I've drawn floors plans and character movement charts more than once before.


These three things tend to all happen at the same time, but with differing levels of effectiveness over time. As mentioned in point B, character interaction is only really effective after they've been plugged into worldbuilding, and description is hard to piece together effectively for storytelling purposes if I don't have a strong A and B, though it can also loop back and give fuel to restart a stalled concept or character.

Also, as I've come to realize recently, I need more than just those three things to get a story moving. Because while my description, character interaction, and explanations are excellent, there's more to a story than that. Like fight scenes, exposition, summarizing events, and having a plot. I especially suck at the last one, which is horrible because I like me a good plot — they make it so much easier to figure out what the hell I'm doing, especially during rough all beginnings.

I do a lot of thinking on public transport. Something about being able to sit still and watch scenery fly past helps. I think maybe it's because I don't have anything else to do, and yet because I'm moving I don't feel like I'm wasting time.

Yeah, that's one thing I really miss about not commuting to school — having an hour to just sit and think was a godsend, especially after I'd gotten the hang of drawing while on the bus. For a while, half of my word count was getting done on the bus, too.

edited 9th Feb '11 6:01:25 PM by Dec

Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit
Deviantart.
 12 Eldritch Blue Rose, Wed, 9th Feb '11 9:32:06 PM from A Really Red Room
The Puzzler
My imagination just works, without me prompting it.  * Most times I am bombarded by it when I don't want it.  * Other times I pose a question and things just explode.  * However, some of my ideas are too strange to really be used for anything.  *

The later it is at night the less I'm able to control thoughts and imaginary things. Eventually everything becomes a stream of consciousness. Just like math, except math is meh.  *

To answer the 4 questions everyone is going to ask, yes I have had an active imagination since I was a kid, yes this is a self demonstrating post, yes I am this silly in real life sometimes, and yes this is my last post for the evening... or is it early morning?

I must send this post before I ramble on forever...
So now I know that my lack of success in college is due to ADD — or sleep apnea. I need to do a sleep study some time.
 13 Hedgewolf, Thu, 10th Feb '11 5:50:41 AM from Perth, WA Relationship Status: Heisenberg unreliable
Tiny Warlord In A Metal Castle
I walk. Pacing's not quite satisfying enough; I need to have the sensation of travel, I think. Plug into my iPod and turn it up loud, which acts as a soundtrack for the ideas I'm having.

Sadly, even if I had plotted out an entire arc of epic epicness in my travels, when I finally get in front of my computer it comes to nothing because I can't even think how to start. Someone invent me a walk-along computer.
No, I'm not dead. I cannot die. My own assistants tried to kill me, but like Rasputin, I notice not the poison and laugh at their icepicks.
 14 Aondeug, Thu, 10th Feb '11 9:41:30 AM from  Our Dreams
Oh My
Imaginings come about suddenly and can start in a variety of ways. Sometimes it spreads from some tangent I was on, sometimes I just think of a question, sometimes images of some action come to mind, and other times I just have this feeling of a mood I want to portray. As for what I do when this happens. I sit or lay around. Or I pace. God I love pacing. PACING. Apparently I look very lost or sick when I am imagining things. I don't physically act out my characters, but I do mentally act them out. I like being in my characters and typically write from the perspective of one even if the text is third person. Third person limited that's called. At least I think so. It feels weird not to.

Someone earlier mentioned that they like to get a feel of their characters by imagining them in certain situations. I do this quite a bit even with characters who aren't the main. Little small scenes to get the feel of the character.

Now as for what my imagination is like...I hear very clearly. Sounds are easy to imagine. Smells are as well. Images I can see all right, but detail is difficult for me. Especially small finer details on faces and body movements. Body language I don't see very well. This is likely due to the fact that I am not very good at noticing it consciously...or related to anyway. The people and things I do imagine are very cartoonish. A certain sort of animeesque. I rarely picture my characters as things that aren't stylized cartoony people. Locations are even worse. I can't map out things or design layouts very well. Most settings are rather similar to things I've actually seen if they are described in any detail in how they are laid out.
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
 15 cityofmist, Thu, 10th Feb '11 9:50:56 AM from Meanwhile City
turning and turning
Everyone here seems to imagine things in a pretty active, pacing-y way. Am I the only person who does my writing while quietly sitting at my laptop?
Scepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom.
- Clarence Darrow
 16 almyki, Thu, 10th Feb '11 10:58:20 AM from Maryland, USA
I believe the reasons for pacing as a common practice when writing is two-fold. First, endorphins can really get the mood up; my mind feels more excited and awake when pacing, running, whatever, and I often just get an itch for it when sitting still too long.

Another reason is something I read in my psychology textbook; apparently this is common practice for when going through the mental creative process, because keeping your body busy on a simple menial task (including walking, chores, maybe driving or sewing) helps to keep your mind loose and open. You know how when you try to directly concentrate on something, sometimes it's hard to figure out what you want because you're thinking so hard, but when you stop thinking about it, it tends to come naturally in a 'oh yeah, right' moment later? It's like that.

I like to run/walk outside to think when possible, but I can't at all during winter seasons; summer nights though are perfect. I hate seeing people in the streets, so night-time is good to avoid them. I remember often going out for a run at all strange hours, like 4:00AM and such.

I also air-guitar a lot. I can be very loud when voicing the more dramatic parts of a scene (without thinking about it), so that's one good reason for blasting the music high as I can; it'd be so embarrassing if a family member heard me spout 'crazy talk' (though they probably already have =P ) .

<3 ali
 17 Aondeug, Thu, 10th Feb '11 1:39:53 PM from  Our Dreams
Oh My
When I start on the writing I tend to be mostly quiet and scribbling away. I can't write first drafts on the computer. Just. Eh. Not my thing. I always have music on when I write. Always. I have quite a bit of the stuff and what are essentially soundtracks for certain things. If writing fanfiction I listen to soundtracks for the thing or remixes of said soundtracks. If writing something original I just pick what I feel like listening to and feel is appropriate for the mood. Some characters develop what are essentially their theme songs this way. The songs that make me think of a particular character typically aren't very closely related to them in terms of the lyrics (if there are any). More the sound and feeling of the music. This leads to some oddities...Many really.
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
 18 Mr AHR, Thu, 10th Feb '11 1:46:31 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
When I am pacing, I am moving. Blood is flowing, and something IMPORTANT is happening, goddammit. I am marching to that important plot point just out of my reach, and I can't get that sense of importantness in a room with no BGM on a chair.
 19 Dec, Thu, 10th Feb '11 2:48:59 PM from The Dance Floor
Stayin' Alive
I'm pacing usually just because that's what I do anyways, whether I've got a story in mind or not. I just get stir crazy after sitting in repose at the computer after a while, and I just have to stand up when I start getting exited over something.

edited 10th Feb '11 2:49:19 PM by Dec

Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit
Deviantart.
 20 Loni Jay, Thu, 10th Feb '11 3:07:00 PM from Australia Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
So, why do people pace as opposed to just going for a long walk? Is it pacing specifically?

I don't find pacing useful, but I do find walks on the beach or around the oval useful.
Be not afraid...
 21 Mr AHR, Thu, 10th Feb '11 3:09:14 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I pace because it's cold outside, and I can pretend to fight people in my bedroom, not so much outside. Also, larger choice in music.
 22 Mousa The 14, Thu, 10th Feb '11 3:13:19 PM from Northern Virginia Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Artist, Writer, Ignored
I usually think anytime anywhere, but I imagine everything as though it's an animated series being played out and I just sort of write it down. Complete with voice acting, sound effects, and mood music. When I hear music I imagine openings and endings or character theme songs. But when I write, It's usually when I'm doing something else at the same time, like having a TV show in the other window or listening to NPR, or when I'm commuting.

I never understood pacing.
My Art |Bloggening

When All Else Fails, worry, that's the 14 way.
 23 Mr AHR, Thu, 10th Feb '11 3:18:01 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I've been informed I look fairly humorous while pacing. Usually because my face will change into very odd emotions while I am walking around in a circle.
 24 Loni Jay, Thu, 10th Feb '11 3:21:02 PM from Australia Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
[up] I do that on the train sometimes - make faces, that is. I always feel really stupid when I realise.
Be not afraid...
 25 Mr AHR, Thu, 10th Feb '11 3:22:54 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I sometimes just stare. At whatever. And think. Then people think I'm weird for staring in their general direction and make fun of me for it. What's worse is that I've seen my dad do the very same thing, and it is a bit annoying when you think he's looking at you, but he's not...

edited 10th Feb '11 3:23:29 PM by MrAHR

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