worlds from home...

Homebrew Vision, or How do you get your ideas?

In Inspiration, Written by Thomas on March 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm

How do you get your ideas?


The basic idea is to pretend that the things you see, hear, and smell are your world. You transmute your experiences to fuel your worldbuilding. Alchemy, get it?I call this particular kind of alchemy “Homebrew vision,” since I use it for working on the Homebrew, but it can be more than visual, and it can be more than homebrew. I know it sounds kind of strange, so here’s an example:

Amicalola Falls, a.k.a. the Homebrew (thanks to Brian McInturff for the image)

Over the summer some friends and I climbed Amicalola Falls here in the beautiful state of Georgia. But instead of thinking of myself climbing around some tame state park, I imagined myself as one of the etevar, the legendary explorers who searched across alien continents for the mythical First City.

I wasn’t wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I was garbed in clothes tattered by a thousand miles on foot. I wasn’t tired because I don’t get out enough. I was exhausted in mind and body because, guided only by hope, I had journeyed for a decade through trackless wilderness. Reaching as high as we dared and resting in a pool of freshly fallen water, I was rewarded by an unbroken vista of trees and mountains. There was the homebrew, and I just had to look out to see it.

When I got home, I had a memory of being inside my creation. It was more immersive than any video game, more authentic than any movie. They say, “Make what you know.” I know that climb. The fear of snakes, the hunger digging into my stomach, and the determination, cold and hard as the water itself, to make it as high as I could.

Sounds great. But what about when you’re not doing something epic?

Homebrew vision is just as relevant. In fact, it’s an awesome way to make the mundane interesting.

Last year I was working on a term paper for one of my classes. It was the sort of thing where you’re working 20 hours a day because you put it off until the week before it was due. The sort of thing where you work on it so much that you start to blur the lines between who you are and what it is. Yeah, that.

In the middle of all this, I stopped to take a break. Standing at that third story window, staring out over campus, something hit me. Call it the lack of sleep, but the winterblown streets below me became the untraveled boulevards of an ancient city. The buildings aged before my eyes. In silence, I saw inhuman workers. Shining with black gold, the light of another sun, they dug up the earth. They were looking for something, and there, shining in the glare of a streetlight, I could see it.

It was only for a second, but it seemed to last forever. I held my breath as the laborers swarmed the dead-grass courtyard of the building across the way. Their faces lit up with avarice and mine with curiosity as they hauled it out of the earth. It was huge, larger than the building I stood in, and what they winched up was only a fragment. When at last, crane straining, it swung up above their heads…

Going back to my paper was hard and easy at the same time. Hard because I was still swimming in this vision, easy because getting away from the boredom for even an instant was enough to keep me going. And for the rest of the paper, no matter how dreary it got, I had that glimpse of another world to sustain me.

So maybe I’m the only one who imagines crazy creatures digging up his college campus, but that’s not the point. The point is that reading your world into the everyday can give you some nice shots of inspiration.

Making the most of homebrew vision requires some creativity, but the rewards are massive. Since starting to use homebrew vision, I’ve run across a few people who do something similar, so I’m curious if you guys have had any experience with this kind of thing. If you have, let us know!


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