A Writer Only Begins a Book

In research terms reading fiction is “text processing.” It’s a highfaluting term for the relationship between a reader and the book he or she reads. A relationship that writers must remember and cultivate in their creations. As Samuel Johnson says, “A writer only begins a book.” In September 1997, the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Volume 4, Issue 3. reported a study on reading. The study had students read fiction that contained weak and unsupported statements about school. The fiction was set in either the school attended by the reader or another real school. The researchers expected that the readers would reject the untrue statements about their own school. They also expected the students would have an easier time believing the misinformation about the other school. The results showed that readers must actively construct disbelief when reading. This isn’t news to us today, but it remains a piece of important information. A writer only begins the book, the reader constructs a suspension of disbelief when they come to a book. So much so that they must actively construct disbelief! Readers are looking for a specific experience when they approach a book. It might be entertainment or a new world to explore […]

A Book Is A Dream

Everyone dreams. Not everyone remembers their dreams, but everyone dreams for most of each night. And everyone knows what a dream is. It’s those images and sensations and emotions that blur together while we sleep. It’s involuntary. But approximately 51% of people have at least one lucid dream. In lucid dreams, the dreamers are aware they’re having a dream and may have some control over the dream. If 51% have lucid dreams, 49% of people do not. Or do they? According to Neil Gaiman, a book is a dream that you hold in your hand. Is it really? Our Body While Dreaming To understand the real-life parallels between dreaming and reading, one must first understand dreaming. Most dreams occur during what doctors call REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The visual and illogical basis of the dreams appears to help us solve some problems. Normal dreaming also appears to lower stress levels. Your body undergoes many changes during sleep. Your brain is active, your eyes move rapidly(hence the name), your limbic system responds (it’s what controls emotions), and you go through a state of sleep paralysis. Yes, for a brief period you are unable to move your arms or legs. It’s […]

Spycraft: Essentials–a Review

Spies, and spooks, and agents, oh, my! Spycraft: Essentials by Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes has the title right. This book is for anyone who writes about spies, loves the history of American intelligence agencies and spycraft, or anyone who enjoys a good and educational read.   Clear definitions give the reader the background she needs to understand American politics as it relates to the spy business. Explanations of the distinctions between American agencies clarify a lot. And there are fascinating examples of events and people in the business.   The sections addressed to writers and how one can use the information included in the book are idea-sparking. Who knew that being color-blind would keep a spook from being good at planting bugs?   What makes the book a sheer delight for me is the humor hits. Piper and Jay have rapier wits and use their humor in unexpected places. “Let’s say someone at the CIA identifies Schmucky Putavich in Bananastan as a person of interest.” There were many times while reading that a chortle escaped me.   This is a book you can sit down and read front to back, or choose a specific topic and only read those sections. Whatever […]