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Bewildering Stories

Jack Alcott writes about...

The Subconscious in Action

Jack Alcott, writing about a scene in Grim Legion, gives us an example of the writer’s subsconscious mind at work, and he ends with practical advice:

Anyway, that thing with the pit was classic: I literally woke up in the middle of the night, straight out of a dream and realized the dimensions and numbers didn’t add up. Visualize, visualize, visualize.

And the scene, which recalls “The Pit and the Pendulum,” was easily fixed by changing the position in which Henry and Edgar Poe land in the Helvetians’ pit.

That’s an example of a story coming to life in the writer’s mind. And it gives a clue to a way of actively seeking out inspiration: gather the facts together mentally and then sleep on them!

The subconscious seems to work with more facts than the conscious mind does. And it can’t be hurried; it proceeds at its own pace. The results may come unbidden, seemingly as a flash of inspiration, at any moment: in a dream, in the bath, or, as to mathematician Henri Poincaré, when stepping off a city bus.

Be patient, wait... and keep paper and pencil handy.


Copyright © 2006 by Jack Alcott
and Bewildering Stories

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