Fuelling our imagination

Who better to help adults unlock, or should I say unblock, imagination, than our children? Given the current home schooling situation, we writers could learn lots of lessons from our children and grandchildren. So for my fiction blog today I want to focus on imagination. In writing terms, what is it? Where does it come from and why is it that our children have it in abundance, while some adults, including myself, often struggle.

I looked it up: Imagination is described as the ability to produce novel objects, people or ideas in the mind without any immediate input of the senses. A bit of a mouthful. We could also call it thinking creatively. Or thinking out of the box. What other words spring to mind – invention? Coming up with something new? Or considering the ‘what if…’ of situations? In a sense, all of these words or phrases help us to consider imagination for writers.

Regular readers of my blogs know that I have been a non-fiction writer for years – now trying to succeed in fiction. Imagination is a new venture for me.

Imagination is everywhere in children’s fiction. Remember the Toy Story movies? Similarly, Beatrix Potter’s books on woodland creatures – all thinking and speaking as humans? Adverts on TV now give things human characteristics too. There is an accepted term for this – personification. But is this what we really mean by imagination? How representative is imagination as part of the human experience – derived from it?

Children, especially younger ones, have no trouble in accepting ANYTHING that happens in a story, however way out. There appears to be no limit to what CAN happen. A belief in magic allows infinite possibilities for fiction. Some writers have excelled at this – the master, Roald Dahl, for instance. James and the Giant Peach is one of my favourites. And, of course, J.K Rowling, with her Harry Potter series – both brilliant examples of writers letting their imaginations literally fly beyond the moon and back.

What gives some fiction writers the capacity to imagine worlds behind wardrobes, or beneath holes in the ground (Alice in Wonderland)? Not just imagine, but to bring to life and create credibility in the minds of readers.

So it seems to me that while our children are at home, why not invite their help to stimulate our ideas? They might invent an imaginary world. Where would it be? Out in space? On another planet? What sort of creatures would inhabit this alternative world? What characteristics might these creatures have? What might the conflict be? Are they fighting for power? Do they lack emotion – though desire it? Is there an odd-one-out – a being that is different? How?

I have not read much science fiction or fantasy but I am now beginning to believe I should. I have often admired authors who can create imaginary worlds or situations. Of course, imaginations may now run riot in the aftermath of this virus that we are all battling with. What is it? When we have beaten it does it return in some other guise? For those of us who have it – does it steal some of our characteristics and mutate into a different human form? Has it been sent by other beings that we are unaware of – aliens? Frightening. Yet the possibilities of ANYTHING happening are a little frightening as we humans think that we can control our world.

But can we? I wonder.

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