Reading this interview with Martin Wilson at One Teen Story, I was struck by this part of his answers: "I had binders full of these [imaginary] movies—plot descriptions, casting choices ... But it didn’t stop at movies. I played (and still play) tennis, so back then I created an entirely fake professional tennis circuit, with hundreds of tennis players, complete with tournaments, rankings, matches, all of which I kept meticulous track of. I know that might sound crazy, but these things kept me sane and happy, I guess, and sowed the seeds for my future creative endeavors."
And I thought: Oh, no, Martin Wilson, it doesn't sound crazy at all. I know whereof you speak.
seen this sort of thing described in fiction: the game called "Town"
that Harriet the Spy plays, in which she invents a town and lists all
its imaginary residents and then gives them stories to play out. There
are also the imaginary baseball games played by Jack Kerouac's
characters (and, I have heard, by Kerouac himself).
I wonder how
many other writers have done this: create worlds that are not quite
stories, not in the traditional narrative sense, but which may be seen
either as play, or as exercises along the way to becoming a storyteller.
Martin Wilson, I created an imaginary tennis tournament with fictional
players and results. I also had imaginary schools full of fictional
students (for which I even created yearbooks), imaginary towns (for
which I drew maps and created directories), and my own imaginary soap
opera for which I outlined ten years' worth of episodes. I created my
own Scholastic-style book catalog with book covers drawn by me, and
wrote my own synopses for these non-existent books. Similarly, I wrote
my own version of TV Guide with shows I invented myself. I
created magazines complete with ads for fictional products, drew album
covers for imaginary musicians, and created an employee roster and
bulletin board for a fictional company. I invented summer camps and
competitions. (And once again, I must thank my grandfather for supplying
a vast quantity of discount notebooks to feed all this imaginative
Not only were these endeavors highly enjoyable, but I
think they also served as a springboard for my writing. They taught me
about world-building and character development; they were creative
outlets and sparked further creativity. I thought of them as "games,"
and much later as "writing exercises."
And now I'm curious as to how many other writers out there have ever done something similar.