Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Imagining ...or imaging?

Welcome to my first Wednesday in October post.

Today was my regular slot to guest post at the Writing Wranglers and Warriors Blog. Since I wrote about some of my writing and researching techniques I'm re blogging some of it here - with some different images.

...Sometimes I need a little bit of help to kick start my imagination when I’m writing. Once I get that little extra push, I’m right into the scene and then my characters can take over in their imagined setting.

When I write my contemporary mysteries my imagination is helped by my memories of a place where I want to scene set. But I also know that my memories can be fickle and a bit selective so in the interests of accuracy I use the internet to give me current photos of where I'm writing about. 

In my historical writing it’s not so easy to create visual images for my locations.  I want authenticity and credibility in my stories but I can’t look back at photographs of my places to see what that landscape was like 2000 years ago. The contours may be largely the same but the vegetation is unlikely to be similar since recent centuries of farming (since the 18th century) and forestry methods in north east Scotland have altered the original picture. That means I need to seek help from other places.

I can add ancient standing stone circles of the stone and bronze ages, or stone hillforts, or stone brochs but my imagination has to work double time on Celtic roundhouses and crannogs which have mostly deteriorated to nothing over the millennia.

What helps sometimes with my ‘scene imagining’ for 2000 years ago Scotland is looking at the artwork of relevant artists  like the famous Angus McBride, or from illustrated children's non-fiction history books of which I still have a large selection! 

But I need to remember it’s that particular artist’s interpretation. Other artists, archaeologists and historians may interpret things differently. And so do I!

In Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series, when writing about my character General Agricola thinking about the Emperor Domitian and the Senate being back in Ancient Rome, I find it a little helpful to look at ancient sculptures. The friezes, and the carved fascias of ancient buildings also give me clues as to what the environment was like. Things my character Agricola is remembering as they were almost 2000 years ago.

My visit to Rome last year helps me a bit but of course, what I saw last year is only what has survived and not the Rome of Agricola's era  in all it's colourful glory.

Virtual imagining processes of ancient places are fabulous and I love to see any that are shared with me on Social Media. Looking at Pompeii, or Portus (the artificial harbour of ancient Rome), or Athens or Ancient Egypt is fascinating.

So, last week, when I saw a FutureLearn course entitled ‘Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City being advertised I just could not resist enrolling. Click the link, scroll down to the little video window and see what's on offer. You might like it, too but there's not much time to enroll since it starts next week, 9th October! (I loved my last year's FutureLearn course on Hadrian's Wall'.)

I’m hoping this Rome course will give me some ideas for polishing my character named Agricola a little better, or that it’ll be useful for the next book in the series BUT—most of all I hope that it’ll be fun!

What are your thoughts on Virtual imaging? Do you like seeing the way gifted visual imaging creators present these ancient places?

Expect updates later when I start my course.


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