The Alchemist’s Eye

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I remember as a child I would stand by the creek near my house and collect the smooth, tiny pebbles from the cool water. I was very selective about it. Certain shapes, certain colors stood out to me. Where as some would see a rock, I saw a dragon, a lion, or a fish. When I was satisfied with my finds I’d put them in my pocket, take them to the little farm house we called home, and there I’d bury my treasure.

To this day I’m sure if someone were to dig between the holly tree and the tall bushes with the yellow flowers they’d find a strange pile of rocks, dirty and worthless. But for me that was treasure. Each of those stones meant something. They became tokens of memories. They represented a wonder I had for small beauty. They were products of what a big imagination could do to something that most people would overlook.

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I haven’t changed much I guess, just older now. I collect things others might see as useless and I turn it into something meaningful. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I am an alchemist.

Like that child in the creek I’m always searching for something I can take and transform. A way to make the dull and mundane become interesting. I see things in shapes and colors, rather than in letters and names, and I see the potential lying there.

Maybe that’s why I became a storyteller. There’s unless territory to explore in the folds of my imagination and there is some many ostensibly worthless and mundane things I can reconstruct.

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I am an alchemist.

When others see a dirty rock in a creek, I see a handful of gold. I’m looking for the next thing to inspire me, the next thing to challenge me, the next thing I can make glitter and shine.

I’m here, not just to create, but to transform. To take it to the limits and give everyone a chance to see where the beauty lies. To show you there is greatness in the seemingly mediocre if you just add a little imagination and a whole lot of heart.

If you’re looking for beauty, you’ll find it. You’ll see where it currently is or you’ll see where it can be created. If you find it, good. If you don’t, then make it.

You’re the alchemist.

Writing In Color Using Black and White Thinking

Imagination vs Reasoning

Fantasy vs Reality

Finding a balance between all these things can be tricky but key when writing. On one hand, if you’re in the business of writing fiction it’s obvious that not everything you write will be “reality” and one the other, you don’t want to be so unrealistic the story looses the ability to be relatable.

Unfortunately there is no one way or another to keep this balance as it all depends on what sort of story you’re creating. For me, creating a fantasy world filled with magic meas that sometimes the laws of physics can be defied, so how do I go off making the story somewhat realistic when it clearly is not anything close to our current reality?

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First, you have to create your own reality. Example, if you have a world filled with magic, I found the best stories make the limitations of that magic clear so everyone knows not just what can be done but what can not. The reader will understand these new rules in this new realm and adapt. When drawn into the story, they will adhere to the new standards of “reality”, thinking through that premise. As a writer then you have to make sure you keep everything in the bounds of that new reality. You can’t go off breaking your own rules or else you end up with a situations that fluctuate between our “real world reality” and your “imaginative reality”.

Keep things consistent. Not predictable, but consistent.

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Now none of us can actually say we’ve ever slain a dragon or thrown a ring into a volcano and saved the world. One might look at this and wonder what could be relatable about those stories. Think to one of your favorite books and tell me, what is it you found so compelling about it? And then tell me how you think it mirrors your own life. Chances are you will find some similarities within the characters of that story rather than the story itself.

If there is one thing that you can’t change no matter how much magic you place inside a realm it’s human nature. Characters who are human will act like human beings do. Their emotions and expressions and attitudes should continue to reflect the state of current and past human nature. This is what will make the story relatable. Seeing failure. Seeing emotion. Seeing strength. Those are the traits we look for. I don’t recommend taking that out of a story. Here is probably where you want to keep within the bounds of reality the most as it’s what’s going to make the reader fall in love with your characters.

Unrealistic characters is problem one of the number one complaints I hear from readers. Mary Sue characters are one of the most hated types in all of writing history as not only are they unrealistic but they make the other characters around them seem unrealistic as well. What I find helps me the most is reading up on history, even if your story is set in an alternative universe. It can still help you understand the nature of humankind and thus make your story not only more informative and entertaining but it gives the readers a sense of familiarity within a strange new world.

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Eventually you will start to get a feel for it. Once you begin establishing limitations and strengths your “reality” will start to make sense and thus find consistency. People like to be surprised, but they don’t enjoy being confused so be sure the boundaries are set and the readers understand the rules. Once that is set then you are free to play around with your imagination as much as you want.

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it

Lloyd Alexander