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A Writer's Blink

" Interesting."

Whenever asked what I thought of the book Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, that was the answer I gave. Interesting is my way of saying it made me stop and think, and several times when reading Blink I had set the book down, not because it was boring or a chore to read, but because I needed to digest what I was reading.

Blink gives an overview of the psychological phenomena known as Thin-Slicing. OK, so what the bleep is that? Thin-Slicing is the ability to make snap judgments, oft’ times better in quality and accuracy than well thought out decisions. Pretty incredible stuff.

I was about two pages into Chapter One when I took my first think stop. The book opens with stories about an art forgery and how several experts “just knew” it was an imposter at first glance.

I thought “Wow! That’s exactly what agents and publishers do after the first ten pages of a manuscript. Five pages. One paragraph in a query letter!”

By the time I was half way through the book I was thinking this is the kind of writer I want to be, a Stephen King or Isaac Asimov: one who instinctively knows what to put where and when in a story to make it awesome.

So, how do you get there?

Reading Blink, it becomes pretty darned clear there really is only one way and that is to become an expert in the field! When I talk to fledgling authors like myself, especially young writers, who are my favorite to speak with, I make it a point to share my personal belief that there is a whole lot more to writing than splashing words onto paper. There are all those things writers don’t like to think about: structure, mechanics, grammar, timing, and on and on.

That doesn’t mean that an author can’t write before that instinctual perfection manifests. It’s an ideal to be chased while we are producing our masterpieces. Each line we write, every paragraph, scene, plot twist, and character description brings us one step closer.

There is more wonderful stuff to be found inside Blink, but those were my take-away points as a writer. I’d recommend the book to anyone and everyone, especially agents and publishers. It’s easy to read, relevant to today, and the stuff it says about the unconscious influence we all are subject to regarding stereotypes is jaw-dropping and should make everyone re-evaluate themselves.

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