4×4 Sources of Writing Inspiration: Imaginary Places

Before the Kids

The other day I was watching an episode of The Wonder Years with my kids, in which Kevin and his friends Winnie and Paul discover that the local woodland is to be torn down for housing. None of the adults seem particularly perturbed, and it is their reaction (or lack thereof) that cause the trio of friends to realise that it was only special to them, as it represented that part of their childhood tied to the imaginary and the magical. This got me thinking about those special places in children’s fiction, which evoke that part of ourselves we set aside in order to grow up. Here are 4 excerpts from some of my favourite imaginary places from children’s fiction:

  • “The island lay about a mile away towards the lower, southern end of the lake, its trees reflected in the glassy water. They had been looking at it for ten days, but the telegram had made it much more real than it had ever been before. Looking down from Titty’s Peak in the evening of the day on which they had come to the farmhouse where their mother had taken lodgings, they had seen the lake like an island sea. And on the lake they had seen the island. It was the island, waiting for them. It was their island. With an island like that within sight, who could be content to live on the mainland and sleep in a bed at night?” Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  • “Oh, Kitty! how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure it’s got, oh! such beautiful things in it! Let’s pretend there’s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it’s turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It’ll be easy enough to get through -‘ She was up on the chimney-piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a silvery mist. In another moment Alice was through the glass and had jumped down into the Looking-glass room.” Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carrol
  • “The sun was shining inside the four walls and the high arch of blue sky over this particular piece of Misselthwaite seemed even more brilliant and soft than it was over the moor. The robin flew down from his tree-top and hopped about or flew after her from one bush to another. He chirped a good deal and had a very busy air, as if he were showing her things. Everything was strange and silent, and she seemed to be hundreds of miles away from anyone, but somehow she did not feel lonely at all. All that troubled her was her wish that she knew whether all the roses were dead, or if perhaps some of them had lived and might put out leaves and buds as the weather got warmer. She did not want it to be a quite dead garden. If it were a quite alive garden, how wonderful it would be, and what thousands of roses would grow on every side?” The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • “The cyclone had set the house down, very gently – for a cyclone – in the midst of a country of marvellous beauty. There were lovely patches of greensward all about, with stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits. Banks of gorgeous flowers were on every hand, and birds with rare and brilliant plumage sang and fluttered in the trees and bushes. A little way off was a small brook, rushing and sparkling along the green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl who had lived so long on the dry, grey prairies.” The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

What are your favourite imaginary places from your childhood? Do you have a favourite fictional place from a children’s classic? Neverland, perhaps? Or maybe, Narnia? Do you still find inspiration in the places in your imagination?

PS This is the 4th and final post in a series of sources of writing inspiration (the other posts being about populated places, unpopulated places and virtual places) as a contribution to a writing project being run by Joanna over at Confident Writing. Why not join in?


March 22, 2008. Inspiration.


  1. Daz Cox replied:

    I’ve lived in overlapping parallel universes since 1977. In this one I am an artist who seeks enlightenment, in the other (main one) I fight for the human resistance against the alien invaders!!

  2. amypalko replied:

    Dare I ask what caused the 2 universes to diverge in 1977, Daz?

  3. Results from the 4×4 Sources of Writing Inspiration Group Writing Project } Group Writing Projects replied:

    […] Amy Palko at Lives Less Ordinary: Imaginary Places […]

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