Sunday, July 17, 2011

Intuitive vs Sensory


The US has gone through a personality phase over the past decade or so. Maybe you have come across it. Beginning in the mid-‘90s, management classes started offering personality tests. Even churches gave lay members personality assessments to optimally place people in positions of service. Having taken many of these tests myself, I’ve found out the writer personality is an intuitive one.

Why do I point this out? Typical readers, even writers who are readers, read in sensory mode, and if you are a writer, knowing this could save you a few months (or even years) of work.

What does being intuitive mean? An intuitive person extrapolates to come up with an answer. For example, most writers won’t even consider the question: “Should I write only about what I know, or should I write about what I don’t know?” The writer can’t only write about what they know. Have any famous murder mystery writers ever killed anyone? Have they felt what it feels like to die? Yet they write about these things. They do it by extrapolation, from intuition.

What is intuition? It is conjuring up the imaginative resource to bring about an experience the writer can in no way truly experience, but can relate to and express and write down and others will relate to and hopefully the writing will change that other person’s life. It is the magic of writing, and it is the hope of the writer.

Writers can derive conclusions from only a very little of the picture. Writers figure out how it feels to be on water skis even if they have only ever ice skated. They relate things that at first don’t appear to be related, but afterwards are so very relatable.

How could this knowledge save time and trouble for a writer? Writer’s beware! The way you may write a novel is not necessarily the way you want to read it. Writing in a relational, intuitive way is necessary, but realize people will read what you have written in sensory mode. If they can’t touch what you are writing – hear it, see it or smell it, it isn’t real for them. The problems your main characters are facing may seem as obvious to you as the nose of the reader’s face, it most likely will not appear as obvious to the reader. Readers (to include editors and agents) won’t make the necessary, intuitive leaps to arrive at the conclusions you want them to. They won’t put the pieces of your story together unless you relate those pieces in a believable, sensory way. Spell it out for your reader in terms of their senses or they will put your book down.

Intuition is the strength of the writer, but relating your intuition through the senses is the grace of the writer. Revel in your strength, and keep your reader in their senses. Make it relatable for them and it will be more powerful and compelling.