Monday, April 28, 2008

Personal Limitations: Personality Part 2

Two weeks ago we considered the first area of personal limitations, personality. However, because everyone is very individual in this area, I had to paint in the broad strokes of generalities. So today I want to provide one of my limitations as an example of how application might work.

Strength of Imagination—Everyone has one, but the degree and type of imagination vary from person to person. I’m the vivid, overactive type. How do I know this? My occupation is a good place to start—an active imagination is quite helpful to a novelist, especially one writing science fiction and fantasy.

My parents and anyone else who has spent much time around me will also verify this. Ask them whether I have strong imagination, and they will start laughing or launch into some story about me walking around the house (okay, maybe I was stomping) as I fumed about something done by people who don’t exist.

And I know I tend toward an overactive imagination because I can turn any unexpected house noise into an intruder or a tailing car into a stalker for some foreign government in a case of mistaken identity (although how I could be ever mistaken in such a case is beyond me).

How does this limit my fiction? While I make up those stalkers and intruders for my own amusement during daylight, in an empty house at night those imaginings can take a sinister turn. So anything that encourages those imaginings is off-limits—no horror stories along with limited amounts of suspense and thrillers, especially in the visual medium of film. And certain television shows can leave me edgy if I watch them too soon before heading to bed. So I now know I can’t watch Murder, She Wrote after seven p.m. or Numb3rs alone during evening hours.

Of course, not everyone has this active of an imagination, so while Hitchcock is off-limits to me that may not be true for you. But you will have other areas. For example, I have a sister who can’t handle plots of personal revenge, a niece who’s sensitive to ecological themes, and a second niece who tends toward falling in love with love. All danger points to them, but no problem for me.

So how does your personality limit your fiction intake?

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