A magic trick for writing

Other posts in Rhobin’s Rounds

The concept of point of view (POV) is a central magic of writing fiction. An editing client has just let me know he has problems with it, so I suggested he use guided imagery to help.

Guided imagery is a little story you tell yourself, in which there is movement. A shortcut is to relax your mind and body, then go straight into the work you want to do, but since it’s pleasant, and good for you, I am describing the full process here.

1. Scan right over your body, relaxing all of it, bit by bit.

2. Next is an induction. I have two choices on my CD Healing Scripts.

This is a scene, vividly described using all the sense modalities, in which there is movement and progression. My script may invite you to walk in a valley between forested mountains, with a creek chattering on your left and grazing animals on your right, along a path to a waterfall. The path leads you actually behind the falling water, onto a stone ledge. Stone above your head; stone below your feet; stone at your back; the curtain of falling water in front. Water is the universal cleaner: it cleans away all hurt and pain. It is the universal solvent: dissolves all stress and trouble.

Or I take a person down an elevator from the fiftieth floor, watching the numbers above the door going from 50 to 1 to ‘ground.’ A gentle downhill walk along a forest path is great.

People who have physical handicaps do best with a script in which they don’t need to move much. A great one is to sit comfortably in the back of a rowboat. The person you trust most in all the world is behind you, out of sight but felt. This person is gently, slowly rowing. All your pain, suffering, worries are on the shore.

3. The induction takes you into a safe place. This is somewhere you can feel absolutely the best. It can be a real place you love, or something made up in your imagination. Typical choices are a tropical beach, a mountain top, a comfortable seat by a waterfall, looking at a flower-covered cottage, being inside your childhood bedroom. You can remember, or construct, any environment you like.

4. Now we can work.

Your intention is to write a scene in your story, from the POV of a character. You now ARE that person. If my character is an old woman with a painful back because of big, sagging breasts, then that’s what I feel. I also have my long hair (grey now!) tickling my face in the light breeze, and smell the scent of pine from the forest upwind, which lifts my spirits, never mind the backache. I notice the ragged grey clouds moving quite fast up in an otherwise blue sky, and watch my son-in-law pushing my little grandson on a swing.

Then there is the roar of an engine, the screaming of tyres, and…

Got you in, have I?

You can continue the scene yourself, and if you like, email me with the result. I’ll be happy to publish a few offerings next month.

Still BEING the old lady, record your experiences. You can stay in the trance state, eyes open, typing madly on a keyboard, or pushing a pen around a page.

5. When you’re done, it’s important to emerge gradually. Slowly count backward from 5. At each count, attend to some aspect of the situation: the feel of the chair against the body, then breathing, then the sounds you hear. Then, move your arms and legs a little, and on the count of five, return to your usual reality.

Please leave a comment below, then visit these other writers participating in Rhobin’s Rounds and read their thoughts on this topic.

Rhobin L Courtright
Judith Copek
Anne de Gruchy
Helena Fairfax
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier
Anne Stenhouse
Skye Taylor
Connie Vines
Marci Baun
Beverley Bateman
Diane Bator

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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18 Responses to A magic trick for writing

  1. When I have the time to write, I find that I’m “in” the scene wherever I am, whenever I can be! When in the shower, driving, eating, etc. The characters grab me by the ears and make me listen to what is happening in their lives. I don’t have to BE them, because they make me hear/see/feel what they are experiencing. Like you said, whatever works for you, eh?


  2. Dr Bob Rich says:

    My pleasure, Anne. Should provide relief during lovely British winters.


  3. annedegruchy says:

    And the bonus of a guided imagery method! Thanks Bob!


  4. Dr Bob Rich says:

    Thank you for visiting, Connie. What I find draining is if the ideas stop. Then I need to ask my characters.


  5. Connie Vines says:

    Dr. Bob, I like your easing into a scene with guided imagery. I jump into a scene feet first and this can become physically and emotionally draining.


  6. Dr Bob Rich says:

    I’m pleased to be of service, Beverley. But also, there is the Shintoist saying: “There are many mountains to God, and many paths up each mountain.” Chances are what has worked for you is as good.


  7. okwriter says:

    I enjoyed your guided imagery and appreciate you sharing it.. I do a modified version with a little meditation and then visualization before I write a lot of scenes, but I’m going to try your method of relaxing and then following the guided imagery.


  8. Skye-writer says:

    I’ve never gone to the extreme you outline, but I very often close my eyes and picture the scene I’m going to write, and since I know my character really well, I’m already aware of the aching back and aging bones so they just color what I’m going to experience naturally. Good post.


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Skye. That’s true for most writers with experience. The exercise is particularly useful for people who look on the character from the outside as they write. They might say of the current witness:
      His brown eyes squinted as he pursed his mouth, his face becoming hostile.” This is of course fine for OTHER characters…


  9. wildchild says:

    Interesting process, Bob. I might try this when I’m stuck.


  10. I really enjoyed your induction process, very relaxing but also very revealing.


  11. Rhobin says:

    A completely unique view, Bob. I think I do this without ever having thought of the process. Thanks for the topic suggestion!


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      I think most experienced writers do something like this, though not usually in a formal way. Hope you have fun doing it explicitly though.
      And my pleasure.


  12. Dr Bob Rich says:

    My pleasure, Anne. We live to serve.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Bob, Wow! that’s so useful, thank you. anne stenhouse


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