Tag Archives: imagination

Using a Child’s Imagination for Writing Children’s Books

My daughter has a big imagination. Some of the things she comes up with are silly, crazy, or unbelievable. I already have an idea of hers that I’d like to develop into a children’s book about dinosaurs.

I sometimes think that adults make things overly complicated. When we think of ideas for a story, we make it more complex. But to think at a kid’s level, we need a kid’s mind to give us the best ideas.

I find that a lot of my daughter’s ideas are linked to reality. The things she thinks of are related to recent events, TV shows she’s watched, or topics she’s interested in. At the moment, she likes to play princess. But she’s also interested in driving recently. She loves making the turn signal sound now. Not particularly useful for a story, but she includes these little things in her play.

Tonight, we went to the playground, and the entire theme of her imaginary life was a princess going to McDonald’s for hamburgers and chicken nuggets. At home, she’s often a pony with a towel for a tail. She especially likes unicorns. And now, she’s got a pony flying around (My Little Pony) fighting with Anpanman.

I’ll have to keep notes of her ideas. Maybe someday I’ll write about them.

For those of you with children, do you have any funny stories about your kids’ ideas? Let me know in the comments below.

Dinosaur Song

Sometimes, the funniest little thing can be a source of inspiration. Let me tell you what happened on Friday around 6 pm.

It was a hot day on Friday, and I’d promised my daughter to take her to the park, because she really wanted to go. So we waited until 6 pm, when it wasn’t so hot. She kept bugging me about it all afternoon, and eventually forgot about it. Then at 6, I told her we’re going to the park, and we’ll be blowing bubbles. So, off we went.

At the park, we blew bubbles, she chased bubbles, and she played on the swings a lot.  She also got to meet a very friendly dog that kept trying to lick her face. We were there for quite some time. I think nearly an hour. It was getting darker out, as the sun had set, and I was about to suggest that we go back home. Usually, this results in her crying and arguing. But things were different this time. I didn’t even have to suggest going back. You see, something interesting happened.

My daughter heard a sound down the hill, back toward our home. She told me it was “Dinosaur no Uta.” That’s “Dinosaur Song” in English. I wondered what it was. She has quite the vivid imagination. So, I suggested we go down and find this dinosaur who’s singing.

As we went down the hill, I asked my daughter if it was a big or small dinosaur. She told me it was small. As we approached the intersection at the bottom of the hill, she told me she could hear the dinosaur song again. At the intersection, I guessed it was probably the cars. She made a sound like a growl, telling me that was the dinosaur song. It made sense it would be a car.

She saw a man jogging across the street and pointed, saying, “Dinosaur!” She then pointed to a car, and said, “Dinosaur!” She pointed out all the cars, saying that they were all dinosaurs. As we crossed the street, she told me to be careful because of the dinosaurs. We soon arrived home, and she was very happy about her time at the park. A successful outing.

The “Dinosaur Song” she created made me realise just how imaginative and creative she is. It’s inspired me, actually. I want to write about the “Dinosaur Song” now. Maybe a children’s short story, since it was inspired by her, and I’d like to write it for her.

They All Look Fuzzy

Whenever I read a book, I make sure I pay attention to descriptions of the setting and characters.  I like to have a good image of them in my mind.  But sometimes that doesn’t always happen.

With the setting, I don’t have much of a problem with imagining it.  I’m good at visualising places.  However, when it comes to faces, I have a bit of difficulty making them clear.  When I’m able to picture the face, it appears cartoonish to me.  However, most of the time, I can’t imagine the face at all.  It’s just fuzzy.  The characters in the stories are often censored or pixelated!

There are solutions to this, though.  I need to concentrate on the description, and maybe I’ll remember it.  However, if I see artwork that shows pictures of the characters, I can see their faces when I read.  I have a photographic memory with this kind of thing.  Also, if the book’s been made into a movie or TV series, and I happen to see who the actors are, my imagined faces are replaced by theirs.

How do you see characters when you read?

From Reality to Fantasy to Story

Have you ever been in a situation that would require you to behave in a civilised manner or to refrain from doing anything, yet you want to do something completely different?  For example, you see drunk man irritating passengers on a train, yet due to societal standards, you’re supposed to ignore the person.  But in your mind, you’re thinking of many things to say or do to get the person to be quiet or get off the train.

I have many train stories that ended with me doing nothing, since if I did anything, people would look down on me for not minding my business. Such is life in Japan.  Things I have seen include the following:

  • A man stole a seat from a pregnant woman by sneaking behind her and sitting down just as she was about to sit down.
  • A drunk man was talking with several passengers, then went to a junior high school boy who looked so terrified, he was looking around at people to help him.
  • A man nearly walked into my wife and I in the train station, and then he followed us.  We waited for the train, but he came behind me and kneed me in the leg, then shouted at me, saying I should get out of Japan.
  • An older man who had been hiking, was sitting between two seats, while his backpack was on a third.  He had his hiking boots off and was massaging his feet. The train was packed.  My wife was pregnant.  I commented to her that some people are so rude, and another man looked at me, hopeful that I’d do something.  I guess he wanted some entertainment.
  • Multiple times people pretended to sleep in the priority seats the moment they see an elderly person or a pregnant woman.

I can go on.  But have you ever taken moments like this, imagined how you could change it, then wrote a brief story about it?  Let me know in the comments below.

Children are Storytellers

Remember when you were a child and you spent hours pretending to be someone you weren’t? I do. I’ve been a robotic cop, a dinosaur, I turned life into a first person point of view video game long before virtual reality came out, and I was a superhero called Lobsterman. Really. Lobsterman. My mittens were lobster claws.

Well, today, my family went to a fun park with a great playground and pond with rivers to okay in. This is the playground.

Playground set in Ryodan Park, Ayase City, Kanagawa, Japan.

If you played on it, what kind of story would you have created?

Transporting Yourself to Another World

Have you ever been somewhere and what you see immediately reminds you of something you read in a book?  I have.  And sometimes, it’s near my own home.

To the west of where I live, there’s a low mountain range called the Tanzawa Mountains.  Beyond that is the towering Mt. Fuji.  When I’m out walking, and the mountains are clearly visible, I get a feeling of literary deja vu.  In fantasy novels, there are often mountain ranges that the heroes walk toward and eventually have to go through.  Seeing mountains like that make me feel a sense of adventure.  I could keep walking and feel like I’m also on an adventure.

On the science fiction side of things, some simple things can make me feel like I’m in a futuristic world.  If I’m in a busy downtown area, especially in Japan, there are a lot of modern buildings and giant video screens.  But giant video screens have been around for a long time.  What I’ve been seeing a lot of is smaller plasma and LED screens everywhere.  They’re in trains, buses, department stores, and even donut shops.  While some things need to catch up (the bus designs here in Japan are stuck in the 80s), I often get a feeling of “Wow! I’m in the future!”

Do you ever get feelings like this?