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I dare you to truly visualize a story

To get your child into the mindset of writing, he or she must first visualize a story. You can plant a seed for a theme or idea or character to write about, but the words will ultimately come from the one who can imagine the plot and characters. How does a parent go about instilling this complex skill into a twelve year old?

Naturally, the first step would be to avoid unnecessary distractions. TV off, iPod off, full tummy, and no friends playing outside within earshot.

OK, next we plant the seed and urge the child to jot down major moments in the story, without giving it all away, of course.

Some talented parents get inspiration from their own kids and create e-books like those found at Charlies Child Book Club.

Next, you take a look and ask basic questions about each major moment while having the child take notes of what he or she is thinking of. Now, refine your questions by asking about things like colour, taste, the wind...

Here we are activating the child's senses and connecting them to the story. To imagine a feeling of cold is to relive a similar memory.

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Basically, that is how much of our imagination works. When we visualize a story, we are recalling memories of similar emotions, physical changes, sights and sounds. Although it is quite automatic, it is the connecting of these images in a conscious, productive way that enables one to see a story unfold.

Dreams and hallucinations are loosely based on images you have experienced in the past or just the previous day, but your mind has a neat way of twisting the images out of reality.

Some writers, judging by various science fiction and horror movies, have a prolific talent for this. What they see is transcribed onto paper, while the translation of that, by movie directors and animation designers, completes the cycle. The results can be terrifying, breath-taking or both.

Our final step before letting the little writer loose is to promote continuity from one major moment, or scene, to the next. A novelist can bounce around, mixing up scenes, but this would not do for someone just learning. Your child will not be able to get reasonable feedback and support if the story is totally disconnected. Have the child talk through one scene and onto the next, to himself, and verify to you that the steps, or transitions, make sense.

You're on your way to having your child visualize a story in his or her imagination, using the senses, memory and an attention to flow and consistentcy. Well done.

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