By: Aryanne Ferguson

To paraphrase the immortal words of Spongebob, the most fun you can have while you play is when you use your Imagination.

Spongebob, Imagination Episode
Spongebob, Episode 44b, “Idiot Box”

This is true during writing too. If you don’t know what happens next in your story – imagine the results of an improbable event. Say a piano falls from a window, or it starts raining literal cats and dogs, or someone gets hit by a bus (à la Mean Girls). How would the story develop? Trust me – you’ll learn about your characters, and when you’re ready to return to the sticking point in your story, you’ll view it with fresh eyes.

Imagination is also useful when your story is still a vague emotion, still waiting for you to make a world for it to live in. So before you focus on plot, try imagining the world where your characters live. As a kid I loved watching Dorothy imagine another place as she sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I looked into my mother’s floor-length mirror and wondered how to get to that other world and who I’d be there, no doubt influenced by Alice in Wonderland. I half expected to walk through a magic door that led me to a place riddled with storybook adventures.  I wanted the mysterious key that opened the secret garden. I wanted to be sprinkled with pixie dust and fly to Neverland.

Wizard of Oz (1939)
Wizard of Oz (1939)

These are only a handful of the fictional worlds dreamed up by authors just like you and me. How did they do it? They took notes on scraps of paper, referenced their dreams, made outlines, walked and thought in the city, in the countryside, in another country, back and forth down their driveway. I think we might all have a bit of Dorothy in us – we’re lucky like that.

And so, Happy (belated) New Year, Reader! I imagine 2014 will be an adventure. How does your imagination come in handy when you’re writing?

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