photo cred: Fog Hill Of The Five Elements
I remember considering writing a story for my collection: ‘Unrealistically Plausible Short Stories’. I shelved the idea for later as I felt the fantasy element would clash mightily with the more believable stories in the collection. I am certain my high school English teacher would be proud of that decision. I did come up with a killer ending for it though and would like to use it as an example of a story I would like to read.
The plot goes like this: Imagine a world where certain deities ruled over kingdoms that were basically territories equivalent to continents. These beings were imbued with great power and mirrored certain elements. The ruler of the kingdom to the South was made of flames, to the North ice, to the West earth, to the East gold and central air. The being of air was the weakest and the most humble but God had granted him territory from all the other 4 nations with the greatest resources. The 4 conspired to murder him but he got wind of it (LOL) and escaped. He hid himself somewhere as they held a meeting to divide the spoils. Meanwhile Air was listening in…
“So I propose we split the land equally, each one of us incorporating the land on their side,” Gold’s words were gilt-edged and sweet as honey.
“Right… that’s because you know the mines are to the East you sly dog!” scoffed Fire. Immediately he started boiling with murderous rage… the same rage that had inspired him to plot the murder of Air. “Keep this up and you and all your kin will be molten.”
Worry rippled across Gold’s face. He simply nodded. Ice laughed a bitterly cold laugh, she shook her head and snowflakes slowly drifted down to the ancient oak roundtable between them. “I don’t know what’s stoked your flames so, but keep this up and none of us will ever see the next millennium.”
Fire shot to his feet like a rocket, flames flaring behind him like a wedding dress burning with eagerness to shoot a fiery retort… but found that he couldn’t. Air had had enough evidence of Fire’s murderous intents and lack of restraint. Air was finally going to use his God-given right. See, the others thought Air to be the weakest of the 5 rulers of the earth… this was in fact false, he was just the most cautious with his great gift. He knew it was to be used only in the advent of a serious threat to the peace of the land. So with foam tears of carbon dioxide dripping down his face, Air pulled the Breath of Life out of Fire leaving him to sputter and die right there on the roundtable; collapsing into a cloud of ashes, leaving the other 3 deities shellshocked.
Tomorrow we start the Confidence series. Buckle up.
I rate all stories I read based on the prevailing feelings at the end. If I don’t feel anything or if I feel frustrated that I had wasted my time – that goes down as a bad book or even a bad series in my eyes. Some books can be mediocre for the most part then have an absolutely banging conclusion. I believe anyone who wants to write a compelling piece (if your readers are anything like me) should put a lot of thought into the ending. Avoid at all costs putting an expected ending (unless the entire plot is meant to be predictable and produce cozy feelings i.e a ride more than destination kinda book) as this may leave a reader like myself pondering why they even bothered picking up the book in the first place. Also – no cliffhangers, please? Open endings are fine but a cliffhanger is the most cruel form of torture one can conspire (aside from any other kind of real torture).
To keep it short, if you’re going to end a story, why not end it in style?
photo cred: www.sclance.com
To wrap up the Creativity: Exposure mini-series I would like to throw in a simple suggestion. If you’ve been watching American television or British television or Bollywood films all your life – to expand your creative thinking I suggest consuming products from different parts of the world than what you’re accustomed to.
We’ve already talked about the benefit of watching shows from different genres, now we will look at watching films steeped in different cultures. There was a stage in my life where shows like ‘Passions’ and ‘The Bold And The Beautiful’ were a staple. Those soaps and the mostly American and British books I read formed the bedrock of romance in my mind. It was no surprise then that my stories would mirror the themes that were the hallmark of those two cultures (which are more similar than most). Enter Bollywood – and there was a substantial shift. Now it wasn’t mainly about deception or conniving or charming your way into someone’s life but there was all this colour and impressing through talent (mainly musical) that I hadn’t encountered. Relationships were no longer founded just on power and money and beauty but on far much more. Furthermore in the ideas bandied about during the draft stages of my writing there was the introduction of a class barrier and finding love in arranged marriages… or the pursuit of forbidden love – concepts that were rare in Western media but commonplace in the Bollywood movies I watched. Did I mention the use of music to drive home whatever emotions the director wanted the viewer to feel? That was the time my writing rhythm underwent a revolution. Then came the Korean drama era where there was far more emphasis on the spoken word and the way they were delivered than in any other form of television I had seen up to that point. Lastly came the anime phase and there was another complete 180 degree shift with creative humour not only based on crude innuendos or the use of vulgar language (apparently they don’t specialise in Japanese) but the introduction of jokes based on the culture and tradition of the time.
My mind was learning the art of contortion, performing complex acrobatics to cater for all of these different ways to tell the same story… all because it wasn’t limited to watching films from a localised geography. Yours shouldn’t be either.
This concludes our Creativity: Exposure mini-series. I will talk about The Importance Of A Creative Ending and give an example in another double post to cap off the Creativity series tomorrow.
Photo cred: Parents Television Council
While I wholly subscribe to reading books to stoke ones creative flames into a bonfire, there is no denying that watching television can help. What? Nah. You gotta be kidding right? Television is nothing but a waste of time. I disagree. If of course like any other form of leisure you overindulge in it you will end up looking back on life contemplating the foolish way you let time slip like grains of sand between your outstretched fingers.
You can check out Zy Marquiez‘s well written post on just that.
We know exposure cultivates creativity and other than the internet and books, television has the potential to transport you to more places than you probably can visit literally.
If you’re intentional about what you watch, consuming content spanning all genres: from Fantasy, Sci-fi to Romance, Drama to Comedy, Thriller to Psychology or Crime and Horror – how can you not broaden your mental landscape?
It is true however that there is less active participation of imagination when watching television as there is to say reading a book. Here lies the tip which can get you to squeeze every last ounce of creativity after watching a show. Self-insertion!
I know it’s come again, I mentioned it before but the importance of exercising a first person view of what you’ve just watched to boost your creativity cannot be overstated. Somewhat surprisingly it’s a hugely powerful creativity lifehack that sharpens your otherworldly perspective. Just try it and see.
I am a little annoyed as I have my posts planned 3 days in advance and yet I somehow missed posting on Friday night. The good news is I will double post tomorrow to make up for it as we begin and conclude a 3-part miniseries called ‘Creativity: Exposure’.
So… Creativity is a function of our minds. As we continue to stretch our mental muscles there is inevitably going to be a wall ahead of us. This is because our minds can only create with the information they take in. We don’t create new information – not truly, we manipulate existing information and change it into something new. This means that the intake of information is necessary for creativity to keep being vibrant and fresh.
What if I read the same type of information all the time? Does that not limit the creativity of what I produce? I recall a time when all I would read ‘Romance’ novels and all I would produce would have romantic connotations. To broaden the scope of ones ideas it is therefore necessary to read widely, touching on all genres and reading books from different eras. See how you grow in terms of imagination when you do just that.
Books are crystallised sources of information that may have been compiled over a lifetime. That’s why we have all these books. The more you read the more “lives” you live in this one that you’re given.
Books are simply exposure in the form of pages.
I never used to like novels. I started reading out of a sense of competition. Someone in my class in 7th grade bragged to me about how they had filled their entire library slip and laughed at how I only had three books ticked off of mine. I was so annoyed I secretly vowed to read more and fill more slips that he ever would. That’s when I discovered the amazement of other people’s creativity. That ushered in the many trips to the hundreds of worlds I have visited while seated on a bench or lying in my bed. That’s how I ended up reading over 350+ novels in my time at St. George’s College… My tip to you? Read for that exposure and watch your creativity blossom.
PS sometimes you need to stop doing everything and take a breath. This is when you recharge… then – you go again.
photo cred: Daniel Coyle
Do you ever feel like you lack imagination? Not me hahaha. No this isn’t a post where I gloat about it. It is a post for me to justshare something that helped me in this aspect, especially regarding stories. It got to the point the that my IGCSE English teacher was forced to air her thoughts to my parents one consultation.
“Ayanda’s stories are too fantastic!” she yelled apparently.
Before you accuse me for providing pseudo-genuine information I vow it is all true. How can one’s story be too fantastic? Well, she didn’t mean it in it’s most positive connotation. My stories were so creative they were totally irrational and required a complete suspension of belief for anyone to thoroughly enjoy them. Not everyone could appreciate that, my teacher being one of them, so for me to start attaining A*s in the subject I humbled myself and reduced the imagination I used in my stories. How did I get to that stage in the first place? As a young boy I didn’t revel in time spent with those my age. This coincided with the time before my sibling could have fruitful, non-goobledygook conversations with me so I needed a way to entertain myself when I felt lonely. Often I would stand beside the house and dream up entire worlds, inserting myself in these dynamic stories as the protagonist, white-haired and dubbed Alex (my favourite name before I appreciated my own). My favourite time of day was when my head hit the pillow. I would spend an hour or so every night reimagining whatever tv shows I would have watched that day with this fictional white-haired character that was simultaneously myself and someone else kicking ass and winning over the main female character. Kid me had game before he knew what attraction was! In the bath I’d close my eyes and picture things. In the car I would imagine a laser chopping all the long grass within view. I would then close my eyes when I encountered a person or vehicle – after all, I’m no murderer.
The brain works similar to a muscle in this, the more you use it the more capable it becomes in that area. Actively use your imagination as you day-dream and you’ll reap in creativity!
See you tomorrow for Creativity: Fullstop.