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The Imagination Box

Writing starter by Martyn Ford

There is a box. Anything you imagine will appear inside. You have one go, one chance to create anything you want. What would you pick? That’s exactly the question ten-year-old Timothy Hart gets to answer after discovering The Imagination Box. The greatest toy on earth. The top-secret contraption transforms his life but when the box’s inventor, Professor Eisenstone, goes missing, Tim knows he has to investigate. With the help of a talking finger monkey called Phil, he sets out to find the professor. In order to rescue his friend, he must face his darkest fears and discover the true potential of his own mind.

I came up with the idea for The Imagination Box a device which creates whatever the user is imagining when I was myself a child. Probably, I suspect, it was as a result of wanting something and being told no by one or both of my parents. Over the years the concept slipped out of my mind, but returned when I saw a documentary about nanotechnology and, all of a sudden, the gadget didnt seem so far fetched. I started writing the novel soon after.

A good place to begin a story is with a core, central theme, item, event or character around which you can build the rest. So, for example, maybe you’re writing a story about a fire-breathing cow called Flame Daisy. Fine. Great. Now, ask yourself some questions:

  • How did she get this ability?
  • Does she need to know a wizard, or perhaps is her father a dragon?
  • Is it a good thing she can breathe fire?
  • What do the other cows think? Is the farmer happy?
  • Is her milk steaming hot?
  • Just what is going on here?

Already, from that single point, you have a vast number of possible places to take the story. Start thinking/ writing and see where you end up. You can always get rid of bits that don’t work, so just crack on.

What you will find is that some bits of stories, lines, characters, even whole scenes, have a way of dancing around in your thoughts and coming together in almost infinite combinations. So, above all else, never disregard any idea you have. Instead keep them in your brain, somewhere safe at the back, next to those memories of last Christmas, because one day they might mutate and transform into something very exciting indeed. Or, at the very least, something like Flame Daisy.