Friday, February 6, 2015

More Introvert Stuff

I have this American Girl quiz book where the results give you a suggestion of an activity you might like to do based on your interests. Sounds like a good quiz design to me. I mean, most quizzes "advise" you to be more like the things you say you're not, so a quiz that says, "You might enjoy doing A things since you answered mostly A's," is a good idea. Definitely what I'm trying to make my quizzes sound like.

But there's this quiz in the book about writing. It give you suggestions of how to jump-start your brain and get ideas for stories, and what methods will work best for you based on your personality. Mostly A's was someone who was visual-oriented and liked art and scenery. Their recommendation was to derive writing inspiration from an image. Mostly B's was someone who was very outgoing, active, and liked a lot of stimulation. Their recommendation was to write down different characters, settings, and things like that and then draw a combination out of a hat to write about. Mostly C's was someone who was quiet, calm, and liked low stimulation. Their recommendation was to write about a character who was the total opposite of them.

Now, I don't have any problem at all with the advice of writing about someone who's the total opposite of you. That is a perfectly good way to start writing. But I have a problem with who this advice is given to. I mean, using an image as an inspiration makes sense if you're visually oriented. Drawing random ideas from a hat makes sense if you like adventure. But what does writing about someone who's the total opposite of you have to do with being introverted? I'm looking over the C answers, and there is just nothing at all that connects to this idea.  I mean, anyone can write about people who are the opposite of them, so why do they specifically tell people who are introverted that this is the best exercise for them? The description is literally, "You are calmer and quieter than most of your friends, but what if your story isn't?" and then advises you to write about people who are the opposite from you. The advice on its own is not a bad thing to do, but I don't like the context at all. It sounds like they're saying if you get mostly C's, you must not have any interesting ideas from your own life, or no one will want to read a story about someone like you.

Why do they have to target introverts??? Why is the quiet, low-stimulation person the one who is supposed to write about people different than themself? Why can't the outgoing, social person be told to write about someone who's the total opposite of themself?

I'll tell you something funny about this writing idea. Now, there are a lot of different ways that you can write about someone who's the opposite of you. There are so many different directions that you could take, and having an introverted person write about an extroverted person or vice versa is only one option. But let's consider that option for a minute since it's what the book recommends. When I write about characters who are the opposite of me in this way - characters who love to be with lots of people, characters who seek out lots of stimulation, characters who like to go out and do things to get their mind off their troubles, characters who are thrilled to spend two months at summer camp  - it's not a challenge for me. It's not any harder to write about characters like this than it would be to write about someone more like myself. Why? Because I've known a lot of people who have these traits. Because most of the stories I've grown up with are about characters with these traits. I could easily write a story about someone who goes away to college and loves it because it's a story I know very well, even though it's the opposite of mine. This book acts like it's a new concept to write about high-stimulation stuff even though you don't want much stimulation yourself, but the fact is, it's not that hard to do because most stories are about high-stimulation situation. Most stories are about things that would leave some of us exhausted and not wanting to interact with anyone for a long time if we were the characters in the story. (And there's nothing wrong with that. It's still lots of fun to imagine being in the story).

What would actually be a challenge is the reverse. If you ask someone who's really extroverted to write a story about someone who's introverted - NOT a story about someone who's shy and insecure but wants to do more things, NOT a story about someone who is too depressed to engage in activities, just a story about someone who is not social and likes low stimulation, and is portrayed in a positive way as they are, and the story does NOT end with the person changing and becoming more extroverted as if that's what they were working towards - I think that would be a far more difficult task than asking an introvert to write about an extroverted character because there just aren't enough examples to follow, and there aren't enough real-life examples that people really pay attention to.

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