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Thread: "Making Up Stories": Childhood Imagination and its Development

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    Pro Libertate L.M. The Third's Avatar
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    "Making Up Stories": Childhood Imagination and its Development

    The thread title refers to Edith Wharton and her childhood habit of opening a book and commencing to mentally create a story. Wharton, I understand, developed this habit even before she could read and continued it despite being forbidden to read novels.

    The Bronte siblings created whole worlds of their own, known as Gondal and Angria. Emily Bronte in particular never seemed to emerge from her “childish” fantasy world.

    I don’t remember when I first started making up stories myself. I do remember that before I was five, and before I could read, I had created fictional stories. I soon became an avid reader, although novels were frowned upon in my home. But though fiction, per se, was not present in the books I read, I still had entire fictional worlds of my own creating. I incorporated aspects of my life in my stories and characters, yet they were still as fictional as those in a novel.

    For example, I remember pacing my grandma’s yard while she worked in the garden. To an onlooker I was a lonely only-child walking in circles. In actuality, I was plotting out a new story, which I seem to recall featured a young lady being portrayed by perfidious brothers. I was whispering to myself, and my grandma was suddenly shocked to hear her gentle, calm and obedient little grand-daughter whispering about “revenge”.

    I’ve started this thread to talk about imagination. Why do some children create these imaginary worlds? (Or do all - to a greater or lesser extent?) Are such children more likely to become writers or obsessive readers? What happens to this “gift” as children grow older? Is it something inherent in how fiction is created? Can you think of any examples of this phenomenon in literature or the lives of writers? Or is this perhaps something so inherent in the lives of writers and readers that it’s taken for granted and doesn‘t merit discussion?

    Any thoughts relating to this subject would be interesting to me. I have more thoughts on this myself, but would appreciate any feedback.

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    Orwellian The Atheist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.M. The Third View Post
    I’ve started this thread to talk about imagination. Why do some children create these imaginary worlds? (Or do all - to a greater or lesser extent?) Are such children more likely to become writers or obsessive readers? What happens to this “gift” as children grow older?
    All kids have imagination, just some have more than others.

    I'd bet writers come from the group with vivid imagination, but what sets them apart from the rest is probably just attitude. Like every human trait, talent needs nourishing and if a kid isn't motivated to write, then he won't.
    Go to work, get married, have some kids, pay your taxes, pay your bills, watch your tv, follow fashion, act normal, obey the law and repeat after me: "I am free."

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.M. The Third View Post
    I’ve started this thread to talk about imagination. Why do some children create these imaginary worlds? (Or do all - to a greater or lesser extent?) Are such children more likely to become writers or obsessive readers? What happens to this “gift” as children grow older? Is it something inherent in how fiction is created? Can you think of any examples of this phenomenon in literature or the lives of writers? Or is this perhaps something so inherent in the lives of writers and readers that it’s taken for granted and doesn‘t merit discussion?
    I'm not sure I can answer your questions. I created whole worlds too as a child, in more than one way. I had a whole box of little plastic animals and soldiers and created all sorts of play with them, giving them personalities, pesonalities that would stay with them from game to game. I remember also creating games with imaginary people, acting out all sorts of jobs and adventures. I guess I would estimate my age to be ten and under for these. Not sure why and when exactly I stopped playing. I think I started playing with real friends after that. Anyway that's my childhood experience.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    Pro Libertate L.M. The Third's Avatar
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    Both comments served to point out that imagination plays a huge role in the lives of all children. I'd say that probably most children have imaginary friends at some point. Or even if they don't, imaginative creation is innate in play itself, even with their friends.
    (The degree and way in which they have imaginary lives varies, though. From some reading and asking questions, I'm quite certain that not everyone went around in crowded shopping malls making up stories, the way I did. Maybe some kids simply knew how to put aside their imaginary worlds better. )


    Whether or not they keep up their imaginary lives, and ever develop them into artistic creativity, no doubt depends upon a number of factors. I think that children without many friends, and without access to entertainments like TV, are going to be more easily absorbed in the imaginary world.

    (Now the question would come, Is this good or bad? Does it lead to creativity or reclusive tendencies?)

    I think my imaginary world began to slip from me though having a friend closer to my age, and from not often writing down my stories and fleshing them out as I once did. (Oddly enough, beginning to read more fiction may have contributed at one time too.)
    Last edited by L.M. The Third; 10-20-2010 at 09:16 PM.

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.M. The Third View Post
    (Now the question would come, Is this good or bad? Does it lead to creativity or reclusive tendencies?)
    I think it's good. Or perhaps the creative and reclusive tendencies are in tension that needs to be balanced. No question that until I met other friends outside of school I was reclusive. What's strange was that I was outgoing (at least to my perception) in school while I was reclusive at home.

    I think my imaginary world began to slip from me though having a friend closer to my age, and from not often writing down my stories and fleshing them out as I once did.
    Me too. Definitely.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Registered User Cat Square's Avatar
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    When I was young (maybe around eight or nine) I would invent fantastic worlds and stories, expressing them on the page as soon as I had the words to do so. I was a very prolific writer back then, but my urge to write has since faded considerably.

    The strangest part is that my imagination has only grown wilder and more free with age, I think it's my need to express it that has declined.

    So it seems to follow, at least from personal experience, that writers come from a unique combination of an active imagination and the desire (or the NEED) to share it. As for obsessive readers, I couldn't say, I was never much of a reader.

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    Pro Libertate L.M. The Third's Avatar
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    Virgil, I too think it's mostly good. At one time I had a slightly guilty complex about it, because of something I read in a religious book. But that's another matter entirely...

    CatSquare, thank you for your thoughts. Yes, I think writers are the ones who have followed a strong urge to write out these 'fantasies'.

    Since I started the habit even before I could read, I could recall my stories well, and filed them for later continuation, but I didn't start writing till I was older and the fantasy habit was slowly fading.

    So, I posted this in general literature to try to understand how this habit may have developed in the lives of writers as they grew older. Is this process essentially how novels begin to take shape in an author's mind?

    And am I the only one who can think of a fictional character with the habit?

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    Registered User Cat Square's Avatar
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    hmm my point seemed less redundant before I posted it :P

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