The One skill writers must have besides writing itself

I am often asked how I come about knowing so much. I never confess to having photographic memory (though I wish I did) neither do I see myself as a genius (I love my hair too much) but what I do have is a wild imagination that seemingly latches on to whatever new information pumped into my cerebral.

Besides writing itself, the other important skill, if not the only important skill is The Mastery of One’s Imagination.

Sherlock Holmes said, “You see but do not observe“. Aptly spoken and it is a phrase that writers should constantly hum as mantra. As writers, the blank page is our canvas and words our paint. We draw imagery, which takes life in the minds of the readers. Such imagery needs to live first and foremost within our writer’s minds. We need to see before it can be seen.

Yes, we all can imagine. As children we played with our imagination, we had dinosaurs running in our backyard, aliens living under our beds, the boogie-man in our closet and suspicious looking people as out imaginary friends. But somewhere along the line we lose this natural tendency to imagine our world. Replaced instead with in the face common-sense or logic thinking. Only a few have learnt to harness and tap the power of imagination. These are the Jedi master’s of their imagination and they are our icons of fantasy and lore example Stephen Spielberg, Stephen King, Johnny Depp; to name a few.

For a writer to excel, he too needs to be a Jedi of his own imagination. He must allow his characters to run free in his minds, he must observe their interactions and listen to what they are saying. The writer is the loyal scribe to the happenings of a reality that lives in his mind, which only he can see and chronicle. Eventually, the happenings of this world would be reported to the world populated by readers; curious to know the whats and the ifs.

For my second book set in pre-war Malaya, I have to rely heavily on my imagination and from watching period movies. There is just not enough research material for the period before Malaysia received her independence. The little that I have come across, does not paint a big enough picture for me to describe. So much of that world, I had to build in my mind and I had to rely a lot on flashbacks by my main characters in order to tell their story. Initial readings by friends tell me that they are comfortable with the flashbacks and the fact I am telling two stories in one. The events of the pre-war story affects the present story. So there is a link between events in the lives of my pre-war characters on the lives of those in the present day. Interesting to read but a horror to write. So I have taken large liberties to fill in the blanks with Constructive Imagination.

Constructive Imagination is not wild imagination but rather inferring and constructing reality based on the little information you have. You may have a shred of information but through a process of deduction you can safely build a picture. Criminal Profilers do a lot of inference work based on evidence at the crime scene. They build a good enough picture for everyone to see, which leads to the capture of the suspect. The same can be said in writing. Build a good enough picture and your reader can see.

Be the master of your imagination and study it well and you will realize that it opens up your writing. Plots seemingly fall out of the sky and your characters take on lives of their own. Link your imagination to information you gleamed from reading and see your stories take on a credible tone.

Before I forget, reading is the fuel for imagination. So read a LOT. It doesn’t have to be a novel, it could be the ingredients from your box of cereals, read, read, read. As you pump your imagination with information, create links between them and watch the stories come alive.

So there you have it; the other skill writers must have, besides writing, is a mastery of one’s own imagination.

Cheers!

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5 Responses to The One skill writers must have besides writing itself

  1. Good site I “Stumbledupon” it today and gave it a stumble for you.. looking forward to seeing what else you have..later

  2. Terry Finley says:

    Great article. I agree.

  3. Justin says:

    “That’s a great post. Here’s a website on developing
    photographic memory. Check out the tips that they offer. They worked pretty well for me. It’s at http://www.photographic-memory.org

  4. fruit says:

    Good post, and a good tip for us amatures

  5. tomvancel says:

    I enjoyed the post and agreed with it fully.

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