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Bob Nailor

Thinking INSIDE the Box

My first weekly tip of the new year I hope you find to be an interesting concept. We are always told to think outside the box but what really happens there? Exactly what is outside the box you have to think about. We all have our comfort zone and I guess that is considered the box. Maybe we don't have to go outside the box but learn to look in the other corners of the current box you're in. Maybe you're just looking at a blank wall of the box... so learn to scrutinize the corners.

Today I'm going to help you learn how to do that by showing you how to think differently at what you are seeing.

First, let me say there are NO wrong answers!

Step 1) Above you see 4 items. Select the two which you feel are the most closely related.
Step 2) Think about why you chose the two. What was the connection?

Now let's evaluate possible answers and scenarios.
1) Most people will select seahorse/shark. Why? Ocean, aquatic, fish.
2) Some will pick horse/seahorse. Why? Equine or the 'horsie' concept; more later.
3) Horse/rose? How about the Kentucky Derby?
4) Horse/shark? Both can bite.
5) Rose/shark or rose/seahorse? Alphabetical? Deadly?

As I stated, there are no wrong answers but each answer is a little peek into your mindset and how you think. #1 is a mature, educated choice. #2 is how a child would see the connection as horsies. #3 is a gambler while #4 is probably somebody who has a fear or phobia of being bitten. Afterall, shark bites are terrifying and a person who is not familiar with horses might consider those large teeth quite fearful.

#5 is very abstract to see an alphabetical sequence (R/S) or to even consider the water in which sharks and seahorses live as being deadly to roses.

What does this all mean? How does it pertain to your writing? It depends on your mindset...

#1 is for adult writing where maturity and education is needed.
#2 is the mindset of a child, horsies. A writer of children's books needs to think as a child.
#3 shows you inside the mind of a gambler; a character who sees winning everywhere.
#4 displays fears; again a characteristic for your hero/heroine.
#5 is necessary for the quirkiness of your tale, to keep your reader involved.

So, now you are in the box and you've been looking at the corners. Most people just know the corner they are sitting in (Seahorse/Shark or Horse/Seahorse) yet for a writer, to be inside the mind of your character, you have to know what they are thinking... not what YOU are thinking.

Want to try another one? No pictures this time, just words.

1) Horse
2) 4-leaf Clover
3) Horse Shoe
4) Garden

Yes, the obvious is horse/horse shoe but then again, there is horse/4-leaf clover (gambling or feeding), horse/garden (a farm), 4-leaf clover/garden (growing), horse shoe/4-leaf clover (luck) and horse-shoe/garden (plowing).

Amazing how the mind works! Now YOU look into that corner and find a different perspective on a view you've been staring at for the last few days.

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