There are so many little things that enrich your life, being a writer. Often, writers are asked where they get their ideas. For fiction writing there are two aspects to seperate: ideas and memories.
Let’s talk about memories.
So some day when you were eleven years old, you went to walk your puppy in the orchard. While your puppy is sniffing out the best areas to leave his markings, you stand under an apple tree and wait. That is, until one of the apples falls on your head and you scream ouch! Your puppy looks up. Startled by your shout, he urinates on the spot, probably not happy to have missed the perfect marking-spot.
You can work with that, right? You can begin to think of some story related to your brief experience when you were a kid. Maybe your puppy’s pee ignites some magic in the area he figured was just so wrong to pee in. And maybe you and your puppy get drawn into some weirdo-world full of dangers.
Yea, those are not the memories I’m talking about, although they can work, too. What I’m talking about are not my own memories, but the memories of my characters, characters I’ve already created, or am in the process of creating. What I’m talking about are memories that don’t (yet) exist. How does that work, you might wonder.
As writers we have this wonderful gift of a vast imagination. Sometimes I just sit somewhere, staring into the void, thinking of some character that may or may not already exist in a novel of mine. I see his story unfold in my head. I live through his story, feeling all his emotions. I’ve never before thought of that part of his life, yet when “making it up” it feels as if I’m remembering his life. Does that make sense to you? It’s like a journey into a world you are about to create, without any map, without any guide, other than the character (or characters) you’re thinking about. It’s like reading a good book or watching a good movie. And you’re right there, in it.
It feels like you’re remembering what this character has gone through, as he goes through it as you make it up. Those are his memories, which you are creating in the process of remembering them. You’re following him, letting him lead you to where he needs to be, watching him live his life. You’re not going forth and back in your head, wondering: would this make sense? Should I place him here, or there? Would it work if I had him do this or rather that?
If you do that, you’re not remembering. You’re plotting. Without intuitively knowing this character.
A couple of tips for your adventure: You’ve got to give it some time. Sometimes 15 mintues are not enough. Sometimes you’ll go back and remember a whole scene several times because you enjoyed it so much. That’s good, because it will imprint in your memory to write it down later. Don’t write down anything while you’re remembering. Don’t do anything at all, other than following your thoughts. If you interrupt yourself because you need to write down what you just saw in your head, so you won’t forget it, you’ll break the magic of your journey into your character’s past. If you can’t trust yourself to remember the amazing things you just created in your head for a half an hour or more, with all the little details, train your brain by going only 10 mintues at first, then gradually increase your time away in that new world. I tend to write mine down hours later or even the next day. Occasionally I forget small details, but sometimes they come back, and if not: hey, you’ve got that gift of a vast imagination, don’t forget that.