Wednesday, 25 August 2010
It's All In The Mind
The method by which one person reads a book and stores the information will differ from that of another. The human brain as I mentioned in a previous post is a complex organ and in terms of reading, it's the bookcase of the body. I have already blogged about this 'storage facility' and its ability to retain the numerous plots and finer details of the many hundreds of books we read.
But what happens when we read one book? Take, for example, a paragraph in my current WIP:
'Mind them cars. Charlie, get off the road, or you'll get knocked down.'
Da had just lifted his wallet out, when there was an almighty flash. I didn't really hear any noise, but within a second, I was lying on the ground, blood dripping from my mouth. A cloud of dust swallowed me up and I heard people, all these women, screaming like mad. I shouted for Da. I tried to crawl out of the dust, but I couldn't see past the grey wall. I didn't know where I was or what was happening. I couldn't feel my legs. The power had left them. I heard a lady shout 'Jesus Christ, help us', then someone else screamed.
What we have here is a scene which relies on visuals. There's a lot going on. When you read through this, do you store the information as a sequence of facts, or do you play out the material in your head, as if you were watching a film?
Storing the information as a mere sequence of facts without visualising would be as follows:
1. Charlie on the road.
2. Dad takes wallet out.
3. Bomb goes off.
4. Charlie on ground injured
6. Woman yells.
If you choose to read this while visualising the action, the brain will create the whole setting, as long as the author has been explicit enough in the information given to the reader. And it gives a more colourful picture:
Charlie is playing on the road and there are a few cars passing by. Then his dad lifts his wallet out, possibly to go into the bank, or a shop, and there is a flash. Suddenly normal, everyday life becomes chaotic. Charlie is blown to the ground following the bomb blast. He is panicking, and the reader sees the blood dripping from his mouth. The reader will also add the dust to the scene, and he or she may 'take on' the role of Charlie, imagining the chaos dissolving into the background, the image fading. The reader in the role of Charlie may feel 'desperate' to escape this bombing aftermath, given that Charlie is on the ground, trapped by his lack of mobility.
I think it's hard not to 'visualise' what's happening as you read. I put both these methods to the test by reading a chapter of a recent book, firstly making a mental note of everything that occurred, secondly, letting the action unfold visually. The first method is cumbersome and makes reading feel like a chore, not a pleasure.
I'm interested in hearing your methods of reading and storing a book. Do you simply play out the events in pictorial form as I believe most people do, following the characters around, or do you simply remember the information as a series of facts?