All World Issues recently had a post titled My Addiction to Writing… In My Head, that I think is something a lot of writers think about – and general people, too (yeah, writers are a different kind of human!). I can only assume that everyone has some level of self-narration going on in their minds on a day-to-day basis, I assume because otherwise what do you have going on in there? Flying monkeys? Though, once I was thinking nothing but a sing-song tune along the lines of ‘a-hem a-ha a-hum hum hum he he he’ for around an hour because man, you get tired listening to this voice. I’ve been meaning to write about this, and AllWorldIssues’ post seemed like the perfect sign to hurry up, because my thought novels are something I think about a lot.
How many of you have Thought Novels instead of actually written novels? I’m currently working on an epic. It’s good. It’s really good. The only problem is that it doesn’t sound good on paper. There’s something about the Thought Novel that doesn’t translate easily to language. While it seems as though the story in our heads is language based, when you try to write the words out you come to realise that your mind was creating a story with visual aesthetics, movements, sounds and word inflections, sensations – things that don’t cooperate well with a keyboard. Maybe I should be pursuing art direction instead.
Thought Novels take extra work. They might not cooperate well but they can be written – it just takes time and imagination stimulation. I recently began to write my current head-writing on my computer and it took quite a bit longer than my usual ideas that become stories through the actual act of writing. Trying to make the characters splash out from the page like the splash in my mind was difficult. No, no he doesn’t fade into the ink and white background, he steams out with colour and feeling. The best way to conquer these feelings is to just trust that you’re doing an okay job. Remember to always show and not tell, especially with these mind’s eye manifestations. Instead of describing their looks, incorporate their appearance into their actions. E.g. to show a man’s strength: “he caught it easily, barely flinching under the weight.” rather than, “he had a strong physique with large muscles.” I don’t even know the technicalities of why showing and not telling reads better and allows more imagination for the reader. Perhaps it something to do with the classiness of implicitness over the crudeness of explicitness. Telling things straight up to your reader is didactic, and tedious – get to the story!
I’ve lived through imagination my whole life. It’s the easiest way to think through problems, cope with feelings, keep oneself entertained whilst on the toilet, and to think thoroughly through your points of view – assuming you like to think fairly and logically. I was always told ‘you have some imagination on you, girl’ or ‘wow that’s weird, how did you see that in that?’ which always confused me. I never thought of myself as having a big one, or a weird one, I thought that everybody else saw the world as I did. I constantly turn real life people, places, situations etc into fantasies which seems normal to me, and odd to others. It doesn’t make me special, just distractable and viable to find myself talking aloud when people are around.
For writers, the internal monologue is a useful tool. The more you twist it into other voices and points of view, the easier it gets to see things as a written character would. The hard part is just that pesky translating it to words. Is it possible that the words we think are tricks in our mind? That we aren’t actually thinking words as they are but are hearing through our mind’s eye a bigger image and feeling behind them that doesn’t translate as easily when simply written.
That’s what writing is for though; writing the feelings and images we had so that others can experience them. Sharing out stories and all that. Thought Novels are beautiful in our minds, and if we work hard to put them onto paper, they’ll be beautiful in someone else’s head too.
[No visual aids were given in this post about imagination. It seemed wrong. This way you can add in whatever you want, go wild. No, that's too wild.]