Tag Archives: retro toys

Use your imagination


One of the questions I get quite often about my fiction writing is, “where do you get your ideas?”

I’ve pondered how to answer. Where do they come from?

Novel and short story writers call it “fiction brain,” but I think a better way to understand how that part of our minds work is to watch kids playing.

Remember your childhood? Hours spent on the floor, in the backyard, or dragging pull toys, like the one above. My mother tells me after breakfast I’d jump down, let her tie on my corrective saddle shoes, and toddle up and down the street dragging my “Lil Snoopy” while she dusted in her pearls and shirt waist dress. >cough< or capris and Keds…you get the picture.

Can you imagine letting a three-year-old outside for hours at a time like that these days? Call CPS!

Then I was into paper dolls, and that part of the brain that adores role playing began to bloom.

Little kids know how to access their imagination with just a few props and ideas from media, the classics and current culture.

Remember when someone would holler, “let’s play like….” and off you’d go, making up situations, and what-if’s, inspired by books, television shows, or movies? 

Here’s what launched me into full blown horse obsession. Mary O’Hara’s “My Friend Flicka,” followed by “Thunderhead,” (who was Flicka’s son) and the lesser known “Green Grass of Wyoming.”

With my collection of Breyer creation horse models (and shoe boxes cobbled together for stables) and I was off and running. Yeah, literally. Around the schoolyard, and in the back yard, and Pam’s yard.

And probably why I still write horses, dogs and various animals into all my stories.

And that’s how fiction-brain works.

What were your favorite toys and games? How could they inspire your imagination to build worlds, and play what-ifs at your keyboard?

Come on, let’s play like!!