Tuesday, March 31
Writing as design
Not to mention that stories distract us from our problems ...
Research suggests that areas of the brain can improve with age. And advanced abilities can correlate with innovation and creativity. The Institute of Design at Stanford outlines the human-centered design process of empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test - all essential for the process of writing.
Indeed, drafting stories is a form of design.
Consider the first page of the d.school's Bootcamp Bootleg - and the many connections to drafting a mystery plot: show don't tell, focus on human values, craft clarity, embrace experimentation, be mindful of process, bias toward action, radical collaboration.
The guide advises that experiences are assets but only at the right time. For fresh work, assume the beginner's mindset: "Your assumptions may be misconceptions and stereotypes, and can restrict the amount of real empathy you can build."
How to assume this mindset? Don't judge. Question everything. Be curious, Find patterns. And Listen.
The guide offers additional advice on point of view, critical reading, imposition of constraints, character profiling, and determination of who is extreme: "Look to extreme users for inspiration and to spur wild ideas."
I began writing mysteries thirty years ago. Some plots emerge quickly and others are slow to form, but I am confident that the ones drafted today are better than the earlier ones. Some would suggest this comes with practice, but I do believe greater empathy, intuition, experiences, collaboration and appreciation of diversity have played their role.
In Allure of Deceit, an antagonist from Fear of Beauty designs a new life through writing and negotiations with foreign charities. Request a review copy.
Image of young woman with stylus for writing on wax tablet, Roman fresco, Sappho, circa the year 50, courtesy of Wikkimedia Commons.