05 August 2010

A Guided Imagery Tour of Your Story

I sometimes do brief guided imagery work in plot workshops to relax writers before they begin plotting their stories (for most highly creative writers, the work I ask of them is very stressful and counter-intuitive and can involve quite a bit of resistance on the part of the writer. all writers are anxious about their writing in a group setting), and I use my voice. Guiding an imagery tour on a blog is awkward because you close your eyes. You also need the directions... You figure it out.

Oh, and if, at anytime during the exercise, you are so moved to leap to your feet and write, by all means... do it.

Find an hour of undisturbed time (nice if you do this in bed before you arise in the morning or at night before falling asleep).

Make yourself comfortable sitting or lying down.

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath.

Let the breath out slowly and mindfully (in other words, concentrate on the air of the breath itself as it passes through your nostrils and how it feels against your upper lip and...)

Arrange the first scene of your story in your mind.

Take another breath.

Let it out.

Settle into the scene. Wait for the fuzziness of the image of the character in the setting clear.

Take a breath. 

See your protagonist move from the first scene to the next scene in your story.

Like a film reel, let each scene play out moment-by-moment to the end of the story. Instead of seeing the words of your story on the computer screen, see the actual action take place behind your eyelids with your imagination.

1. Transitions are often determined by character motivation. When the reader understands what motivates the character to transition between two scenes (locations, time periods), the story flows. In order to image your story, you move between scenes. Without the character motivation, the movement becomes episodic. Character motivation provides a sense of cause and effect, and the movement of the story flows. If the character motivation isn't in your scenes as written, it likely will pop up now. Watch for transitions and keep character motivation in mind to incorporate in your story.

2. Foreshadowing opportunities reveal themselves. You may have noticed in real life that nothing appears out of nowhere, out of the blue? Well, even if you haven't noticed that, in stories, one scene serves to foreshadow what comes next or later in the story. The first scene is preparatory, sets up a feeling of anticipation in the audience. Watch each scene to see what it foreshadows about the upcoming major turning points in the character emotional development plot and the dramatic action plot.

3. Thematic tie-ins hover over the story as you imagine it. Watch for them and take note.