When I look around the world, I see people- a few I know and many I don’t. I look at these people and imagine what their lives are like, or rather, what a skewed, fictional version of their lives may be like. I create alternate realities when I look at people. You can consider me a god in that respect.
In a sense I’m judging a book by its cover, but at the same time I’m not doing that at all. I don’t form opinions of the people in the real world based on the back stories I create. I don’t think any less or any more of them because of my imaginings. I just transfer their look into a fictional world where I can mold the character into something that amuses and entertains me. That’s all.
Let me give you an example. Say I’m at Lowes or Home Depot or wherever buying a new hose to water my garden, and by garden I mean patch of weeds with a few vegetables poking through here and there, and a guy walks past me with a dirty shirt and a spade shovel on his way to check out. My mind would start to create a scene where he murdered his nagging wife and buried her in the garden during the night, but his shovel broke so he had to go buy a new one to finish the job.
Do I really think he killed his wife? No. Does that stop me from creating a story where he did? Absolutely not. If I get lucky, that story will blossom and unfold itself to be even more elaborate and demand that I write it down.
Life would be a whole lot more boring without an imagination. It is the bringer of great ideas and the prankster that delivers false information to screw with your head.
Next time you see two people talking, but can’t hear what they are saying, trying making up the words for the conversation. It’s even more fun if you have a friend to play the part of the second person. You’ll be astounded by some of the ideas you can come up with by doing something so simple to amuse yourself.
I’m convinced the key to writing a good story is having a good imagination. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either, but that’s a topic for another day. Forget your mastery of grammar rules and giant vocabulary. Those things aren’t nearly as important as you think. Without imagination, those things will get you nothing more than a boring manuscript that no one wants to read beyond page one.
Do your best to hone your imagination every day and it can end up being the most important tool in your bag of tricks as a writer. It will fill in gaps you didn’t even realize existed.
Consider the imagination like a plant. Water it regularly and it will grow and thrive, producing nourishing fruit and/or beautiful flowers for you to enjoy. Ignore it and it will die. You’ll be left with a shriveled husk that eventually crumbles and disappears with the wind. Do yourself a favor and don’t let that happen. If you’re willing to let that happen, then just pass that bad boy on over here and I’ll let it meld with mine so it has a place to grow and thrive.
If there is one thing I want to leave behind when I die, it’s my imagination for the world to enjoy. Whether it be through stories or in some other way doesn’t really matter. As long as it doesn’t die, I’ll be happy. Do me a favor and feed the beast after I’m gone.