A Magic Trick For Writing

The concept of point of view (POV) is a central magic of fiction writing. 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.

The Process

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

  1. 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.
  1. 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 if you like.

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.

  1. 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.

Dr Bob Rich by Dr Bob Rich. He has been a professional editor since 1999, and won the Preditors and Editors best editor award in 2007 (because one of his clients entered his name, then drummed up support). His 18th book is with his publisher right now; 5 previous books have won awards. Currently, he is running a global Free book edit contest with no entry fee, the prize being the free edit of a full-length manuscript.

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Posted on: 14th September 2018