the art of words.

So, you have words. Tons of words. And you know how to put them together to formulate clear sentences to describe your stories to the rest of the team. Now, you just need to come up with ideas for stories to describe.

... imagine.

Warriors prepare for combat. They train and add move after move to their repertoire of fighting maneuvers. But the battle isn't just a regurgitation of memorized series of moves...there's no real way to predict how a battle will go. You can plan for a battle by studying an enemy and learning how they respond to specific situations, but when the battle begins, there's no guarantee they'll react exactly the way you expect them to. To gain the upper hand in battle, you'll need to rely on instincts and your imagination to quickly come up with creative combinations and adaptations of the moves you've already learned. In battle, imagination can sometimes be the deadliest of weapons available to the warrior.

Your imagination plays a key role in gaining the upper hand in the realm of writing. You can learn techniques and formulas for writing, and you can research your subject matter until your ears bleed knowledge. But when it comes time to actually create create your story, you need to let your imagination soar to get the most out of it.

So, let's look at some tactics for dealing with the powerful writing weapon of imagination.

Curiosity. Where does your imagination draw its power from? When you "create" new characters, new ideas, or new worlds, where does the material come from? Your brain... your mind... your collection of observations and memories. You can't really create something from nothing. You have to have some base materials to construct your vision of things.Curiosity is the key to amassing lots of raw material for your imagination to work with. When you meet someone with a job you don't know much about, ask questions. When you overhear something interesting, look it up and find out more about the subject. When you go someplace new, explore the area and see what's there. Interview people, keep up with the latest news and discoveries, take "research" vacations, volunteer to help out with different community activities, take classes/extension courses, etc. Rekindle that child-like curiosity where you questioned everything, pulled everything apart to see what made it tick ( just leave the refrigerator me on this one), and explored any place you could get to.

Be curious and the raw material needed to fuel your imagination will come to you.

Experimentation. Mad scientist time! Knowledge is good...knowledge is fun. But what if you took different bits of that knowledge and blended them together into crazy concoctions? What mixed together two old 80s cartoons to see what would happen? What took a popular kiddie show and replace the host with a transforming robot battleship that has some repressed childhood trauma? What rekindled some obscure mystical legend, bring it into the present with ties to a modern crime organization, punch it up with some supernatural legends spawned by a literature tie-in, and sprinkle it with some psychological disorders? You can mix it up as much and as wild as you want.Take a few minutes a day to experiment freely with different ideas...the crazier the better. Let your mind revel in the joy that anything's possible. Pull all those stray bits together to create something different, something exciting, something weird, or just something fun. You're a play mad scientist and go create!

Stormbraining. Yes, I purposely misspelled that word. Too many people go into "brainstorming" sessions with the emphasis on the brainy part and not the stormy part. They consciously refrain from tossing ideas out there unless they're highly intellectual suggestions. They hold back on anything that someone might think is crazy or stupid, and that one action can become a dam that holds back the flood of ideas stuck behind one or two "crazy" ideas that they keep dwelling on.Let your ideas storm out like a raging tempest. Nothing's too crazy...nothing's too stupid. Why? Because once it's out in the open, it'll hold the door open for other ideas to come rushing out. There's nothing stupid or crazy about that. Give it a try...stormbrain for ideas on a topic sometime. Once you start, write down every...EVERY...thought that occurs to you. It doesn't matter how off-the-wall or insignificant the thought is to the topic your looking for ideas on...just write down everything that comes to mind. Do this for a good fifteen to thirty minutes, and then take a good look at how many ideas you came up with. Sure, a lot of those ideas might be junk, but you've increased your chances of finding one good idea in there ( and with this list, you also get the opportunity to do a little experimentation with the different ideas... that one crazy idea might mix with another so-so idea to give you a much better solution than any one single idea on the list ).

Imagination can sometimes be a fickle thing, and the best strategy to keep the ideas flowing is to...keep the ideas flowing. Like all the other weapons in the writer's arsenal, you need to "use it or lose it." I maintain a special journal called a "thought bucket," and I use it to write down at least one new story or character idea a day. It's not much, but it keeps the mind primed for creating. Do something every day to keep your imagination in shape, and it'll be ready to go when you need it most. And curious, experiment freely.

ta-ta for now.