Friday, August 8, 2008

Keys to Imagination

Recently I watched a movie that was quite faithful to the book as I remember it when reading it. This is unusual. Have you noticed that from your own experience?

The intersection of movies we have watched and books we have read is quite disappointing. Times when I have seen a movie based on a book that I particularly liked, I most often regretted seeing the movie. Why is this?

One explanation is simple. Writers use a careful construction of words to create images in the mind. It is that interaction between the words that the writer has chosen and the engagement of the reader's imagination that lets a person create images in their mind that enables them to see, hear, smell, taste and feel the story. In other words, it is a way of knowing.

What happens in the making of a movie? Actors love to improvise and add their own touches to characters. Directors look for ways to make things visually appealing. The selection of a composer makes a difference in a movie as well. And, of course, there is the script writer, whose job is more attuned to dialogue than description. So by simply doing what they do best, they may take a different approach to making a movie than the author did writing the book.

Years ago, I was teaching a writer's workshop and as an exercise in getting their creative juices flowing and getting them started writing one evening, I told them to close their eyes and we would do a visualization exercise.

One of my students was a fundie who said that visualization was not allowed by her religion because it was the work of the devil, along with meditation and yoga. I asked her if she could use her imagination. She said that was OK. They really are just two different words for the same thing, so we were able to proceed. She commented that she only wanted to write Christian stories. I informed her that it did not matter what religion a person is because a good story is a good story, and that is all that matters to a writer and the people who read them.

Imagination is a prime tool for helping us to know things, to picture ourselves in the shoes of another person, or to sense what our life will be like when it changes. Imagination is creativity,
passion, enlightenment, vision and inspiration.

Our imaginations are powerful tools. If it helps you to go back to using this familiar term from childhood, by all means use it.

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