As a reader (and a writer), I enjoy an active imagination. Words on a page inspire flights of fantasy, and though my vision may not match that of the author, if I have gone somewhere, they have been successful.
When I am describing a scene, I have a picture of it in my head, which I assume most writers do. Some, however, might use a reference. I know I have seen places that should be written about–a building, an alleyway, a copse or cliff. A line of mountains. I tuck these away in a notebook and save pictures when I can. There are a lot of places that, taken out of context (excised from Earth), appear otherworldly. In the case of architecture, I like to believe this is often on purpose. In nature, however, almost anything seems possible.
Leafing through the May 2012 National Geographic this morning, I stumbled across a picture that fired my imagination.
This is Litlanesfoss, Iceland. The columns were formed by an ancient lava flow. Though not regular, the hexagonal shape of the columns immediately inspired thoughts of video games—and jumping puzzles. Rather than a photo, I saw concept art…and I loved it. I wanted to write about this place, I want to describe it in words and turn it into the landscape of an imaginary world.
Iceland features a lot of such places, as a quick browse of available images will show, but there are inspiring landscapes in my own backyard as well. I drive past a reservoir on my way into town. Many mornings, particularly in the spring and autumn, the water is obscured by mist. I wonder if there is an island in there, a secret one that only appears when the mist settles across the water. One day, I’ll look for it.