Writers envision.

Envisioning means forming images in your mind of things that do not exist. You use this ability when you think about how you want to rearrange the furniture in your living room. You use it when you remember the smell of your grandmother’s almond cookies.  Envisioning is your brain using its mental sketchpad. This is what lets you ask yourself, “What if?” What if a lonely boy got a letter saying he was accepted into an exclusive school for wizards? What if teenagers were forced to battle each other to the death? (And in what situation could that ever happen?) What if military prodigies were sent to a “space battle camp”?

invisioningWays to practice envisioning:

–          Self-guided mental imagery is a great way to entertain yourself while you are trying to fall asleep. Close your eyes and imagine a landscape. Is it urban or natural? What is the weather like? Are there plants, animals, people? What are they doing? What can you hear? Are the noises steady and continuous or are they jarring and irregular? What do you feel on your skin? Are you warm? Cold? Wet? What can you smell?  You can do this with a character as well. What does he look like? How does he move? What is his voice like? Does he speak with an accent? What facial expressions does he use? And on and on.

–          Play the “what’s-your-story” game. As you encounter strangers (in the doctor’s office, on the plane, at restaurants), think of a fictional story that explains their background and why they are in this place at this time. Details about their clothing and body language can provide ideas for their fabricated backstory. This is an excellent way to deal with road rage. Make up a story about why the person who just cut you off is in such a hurry. He lost his job last month because he was spending so much time in the hospital with his sick daughter, and now he has an important job interview, which he is late for because the doctor called to say . . . and so on.


You might also be interested in this post: Thinking Like a Writer, Part 1 and Thinking Like a Writer, Part 3.

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