From lands Far Far Away to four elephants stood atop a turtle, writers are responsible for the architecture of many a fictional realm. Over the years, they’ve developed innumerable ways to build sturdy foundations on top of reliable narrators and smoothly laid plots (and the odd reptilian shell).
So of course Smashmouth isn’t the smartest tool in the shed — how can they be when there are half a quintillion other tools, primed and sharpened and Stephen King-kissed, ready to make things write? A writer’s toolbox is like a writer’s imagination — infinite and expanding.
So why even bother using the former when the latter is, as it happens, all you actually need?
Beyond it being the very life source of our existential experiences, our imaginations are the engine of creativity. Any idea ever had is incubated within the imagination chamber before it’s shoved, kicking and screaming, along the brain-birthing canal and out onto the page. It’s a mess. And it’s magical.
There truly is nothing like it.
Sure, you can search the internet for top tips on how to hone your writing skills — and those are invaluable, really they are. Writers need to be able to write, right? In the same way, it’s never wrong to study how to effectively structure your narrative. A good story is one that flows, after all.
But the bottom line is — in fact, the thing that comes before the very first line put to the page — storytellers can’t tell a story that hasn’t told itself yet. Writers cannot imprint on the world what has not yet formed inside their marvellous minds.
Before learning any other writerly tricks you need to begin here. In the mind. Envisioning the story you want to tell.
Regarding fiction, the words you plan to weave into worlds must first manifest in your imagination. In the case of non-fiction, even if you’re writing a real-life account you’ve previously lived, your memory plays out on the stage of your brainscape. Every story ever told begins in the mind.