I Wonder…

As a bit of an exercise to precede my next entry for Language of the Small Folk, I thought I’d try something with you all to reflect the mindset that is required for me to write LotSF. 

While I write this story, I constantly have to look at commonplace things in my everyday life, like flowers, birds, or clouds, and come up with some sort of fantastic story for them. I have to teach myself to look at something and instantly wonder what it could become with a bit of imagination and storytelling. I’m starting to learn to see more than what is there and make a story out of it, and so I thought it might be fun to involve you in the process.

My dad recently showed me the first look trailer for an upcoming game called Black Deserts. As I was watching the trailer, I was struck by how uniquely the designers presented their game. Most trailers seem to focus on story, or conflict and war, but this trailer really seemed to emphasize that Black Deserts is a world chock-full of life and smaller stories, where a person could actually live. There were so many smaller things in the trailer that made me wonder and captured my imagination, and that’s why I feel that this is a good example to use for this exercise.

The task is this: watch through the video and find something that interests you–some sort of visual image that really sticks in your head. Then, start to imagine. What is the history behind this person, creature, place, or thing? What is it doing there? Where is it headed? If it’s a person, is that person heroic or humble, do they have a family, a purpose, a quest in life? If it’s a creature, where does it live, what does it eat, does it have magic, can it be tamed? If it’s a place or an object, who built it, what is its purpose, does it have a name, an owner, magical properties, has it won wars or housed secrets? Take this one image and stretch it as far as you possibly can. Then, focus in on one storyline and follow it.

You don’t have to share what you imagine, or even write it down. But by all means, you are welcome to post or link to anything you write so that you can share it with myself and others, and inspire us. You could write a poem, a short biography, maybe a journal or diary entry, or a paragraph or page of creative writing. Maybe you even want to take that image, imagine a story for it, and then draw a new image. It’s up to you–just have fun and exercise your imagination!

To hopefully inspire you, here’s something I wrote for it, using the beautiful silver-blue horse that can be seen in the bottom right corner at 2:03 in the video.

Jittery, the horse arched her neck and snorted, dancing in place as unfamiliar hands ran down her flanks. Her iron shoes rang out on the cobblestones, and the sound they made as they echoed off the stone wall of the building behind her sparked her memory. She spun on her hindquarters, trying to get away from all the people, but the horse trader contained her with his strong, controlling arms.

The whites of her eyes flashed fearfully as she sought escape. The horseman stroked and patted her soothingly, settling her nerves only slightly, but then the wind shifted and the smell of the smithy’s smoke filled her nose. Snorting and tossing her head, she lifted her front hooves off the street for a moment, growing more desperate. The echoes, the fire… Her memory was flooding back and starting to overwhelm her senses.

The humans spoke shortly, their voices too rough and deep for the mare to understand, and she stomped anxiously. The trader turned away for a moment to pick up something, and the mare darted forwards, hoping to flee the close quarters of the city, but the other men who were there to admire her kept her cornered with loud shouts and hand-waving. She tossed her head worriedly, hooves shuffling on the cobbles, and again the wind shifted…

The unmistakable sound of a lyre came drifting towards the mare, its music soft and sweet, and her ears immediately pricked to capture the sound. She stood stock still, trembling, listening to the song and recognizing its melody. That was freedom, she thought, freedom at last.

Just as she raised her head and whinnied, adding her voice to the song that beckoned her, begging it to wait for her, to come and pick her up and carry her off and deliver her from captivity–she felt the coarse rope descend around her neck, the halter pass over her face, and was tethered by the bonds of men. She fought desperately, striking out with her hooves, struggling to rear under the weight of the horse trader, and all the while neighing to her beloved. I am coming! she cried. I’m coming!

But yet, she was powerless. The gypsy’s horse, caught by ropes, tethered in a suffocating pen.

Finally, exhausted, unable to fight, she fell still and silent. She listened as the song faded on the wind and the voice of her freedom left her. I will come, thought the mare sadly. I will come.

And as she lowered her head, she felt the iron heat of the brand come upon her.

When I first saw this horse in the video, I wondered, “What on earth is such a gorgeous, free-spirited horse doing penned up in a city?”, and so I built upon that. And to be honest, I kind of felt like that blue mare today. I was overwhelmed by all the noise around me, and was desperate to be free of it. By learning about that mare, I was also learning about myself.

I challenge you to try this exercise and let your imagination guide you. And don’t just stop here. When you see a penny on the sidewalk, wonder where it’s been. When you see a flower growing between cracks in the asphalt, wonder how long it’s been there. Wonderment is a powerful tool, and it opens so many doors in your adventure.

What do you wonder about?

May you always wonder what stories lie beneath the surface, and have the imagination to pursue them.

-Alex

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