Friday, April 29, 2011

Back on the Blog Chain: The Speculative Mindset

I had my A-Z post for today prepared several weeks ago, and it doesn't fit well with the blog chain this time around. So today I have to double-post. Margie asked, "How do you get in the mindset of your genre? Do you research people or facts? Do you just reach into the recesses of your mind for events that would make a good story? Something else?”

Kat posted before me, and Kate comes afterward.

My genres of choice are science fiction and fantasy. Since both of them involve events that don't or can't happen in the world as we know it, it may seem difficult to get into the right mindset to write them. However, as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) knew, doing so requires practice:

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

(This quote is from Through the Looking Glass.)

I'm always on the lookout for interesting ideas or facts for my stories; they pop up when you least expect them. For example, I had to drive to St. Charles, IL on Monday for a CPR/First Aid class. While I was there, I noticed a house with three gargoyles on the roof. What were they doing there? Were they just guarding the house, or did they have another purpose? As if one house wasn't enough, on my way home, I noticed another house with three dog statues by the entrance. The two houses were in different cities, but what if they were next to each other? What if the two sets of statues were enemies? I may use this idea as the basis for a story someday, or maybe the statues will be part of a setting. Maybe I'll never use this idea. The point is no matter where you are, you can gather ideas from your surroundings if you look for unusual things and then allow yourself to speculate about them. I also like to look for ideas in science news or in other books.

In order to get into the speculative mindset -- or the mindset of any genre -- it's important to continually read in your genre and connect with others in your field. Doing so will show you what's already been done and what others are currently doing. Once you know where the genre has been, you can help decide where it needs to go next.


Sarah McCabe said...

That sounds like an amazing idea for a short story. I love the way your imagination works.

I agree that immersing yourself in your genre is important to maintaining to right mindset. I tend to look for ideas everywhere too.

Michelle H. said...

Gargoyles! Now that's an interesting way to get in the mindset. Nice post.

Eric said...

I've always loved gargoyles. They have such literary potential :)

Great post though. And your choice of the Alice quote is just perfect.

Kat Harris said...

I second Eric. The literary potential there is great. Do you suppose you'd have even noticed those gargoyles if you weren't a writer?

Christine Fonseca said...

LOVE the idea...and super love the quote!

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