But how could I describe something I have never seen? For example, a castle? I decided to check out some children's books on castles from the library and devour them. I chose children's books because they are written for the visual learner more than any other type of learner, in my opinion.
These books had ample amounts of drawings along with detailed descriptions of the innards of the castle. That helped jump start my imagination.
Once I had the idea of how a castle worked during medieval times, I was easily able to begin to "construct" King Alexander's castle in Illiath.
So how important is it to develop the imagination as a writer of fiction? Very important.
Since I grew up watching movies over and over again as a child in the 1970's, I was a visual child who grew into a visual adult. Even now, I learn better by seeing and then by doing something rather than just reading about or hearing about something.
Fantasy writing came easily for me since I can usually imagine a fantasy world and picture that world I have created inside my head. Putting it down on paper was the challenge. My editor often asks me to reiterate what I was trying to say in a certain scene because although I had it finished in my head, what I wrote didn't make sense to him as the reader.
That's why it is important to have a good editor. He is she will slow you down and make you retell something if it isn't making sense in the story.
But sometimes creating a fantasy world, whether its dragons and castles, vampires in modern days, or wizards flying on broomsticks, is rather tedious because of all the detail. Structure is still vital.
I find that a writer must always strive to have a strong introduction to the issue or problem and a strong conclusion or resolution so the reader will not be left hanging. That is the challenge. Readers can only read so much about fantasy lands, languages, or creatures before they begin to desire a quality tale that takes them on an adventure. My son commented yesterday about how sometimes all the fancy digital effects in a movie can falter the entire movie if there is not a good solid story behind all the action and effects. A solid story is foundational.
Knowing how to blend fantasy with a solid story is what C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien accomplished. I know I haven't reached that level of writing just yet, but it is my goal to have that balance within my stories. I want to take my readers on an adventure in a land they can see in their heads as they read.
So, continue to imagine!! Create that fantasy world!! ...but remember to always have a good story holding up that fantasy world. Take your readers on an adventure through your world they will never forget. Make them wonder what is behind every corner of your world. Cause them to use their imaginations over and over again.
But most importantly.....just write!