Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

So I came to a realization today:  writers need to be whole-brained people.

This may require some explanation.  Most of you have heard of the Left Brain, Right Brain theory, where the left brain controls logic and the right controls creativity - the thinking brain and the feeling brain.  (It's a lot more complex than that, but bear with me.)  You may not have heard of the other component:  the further division into frontal ("higher" processes) and basal (more instinctive processes).  This means the brain has four quarters, or:

Frontal Left:  Logical, analytical
Basal Left:  Order, organization - "the rules"
Frontal Right:  Creative, experimental
Basal Right:  Emotional, interpersonal

If you're familiar with Tarot, another useful analogy is to align the quadrants with the minor arcana:  swords, pentacles, wands and cups, respectively.  (If you're not "into" Tarot, this just confused you more.  Ignore it.)

Anyhow, I looked at this and realized how much a good fantasy writer needs all of these. It looks like this:

Frontal Left:  Construct an internally consistent world where special powers / elements are carried out to their logical conclusion.  Plot coherency - does it make sense for X to do Y?
Basal Left:  Organize and track information so a character's eyes don't change color every chapter.  Grammar, punctuation and sentence structure.
Frontal Right:  The fundamental creative juices.  Everything from the first "what if?" to the writing itself.
Basal Right:  Understand human emotions, incorporate them into the story, and draw them out of readers.

And that's not even getting into the editing process - which, while it may be more of a left-brained process, also requires contributions from the right brain:  creative solutions to plot-holes, gut feel about the best route to take ... your mileage may vary depending on your revision process.

So those are my thoughts on the whole-brained writer.  Of course, this doesn't have to be restricted to fantasy:  all stories require these elements, including worldbuilding ... even if that world is your corner store.

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