Brain Science for Writers Roundup 10/3/14


Happy October! By the way, I recently published a short story at Inscription Magazine.  You can read it for free here.

And on to the brain science articles...

Does going on vacation make you more creative? (via Passive Guy)

Dogs get jealous.

Not surprisingly, the way you describe a crime and a criminal will affect how harshly the criminal is judged.

An interesting article on how one's propensity to feel disgust predicts one's political inclinations.

And finally, a mathematical equation to predict happiness.

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Brain Science for Writers Roundup 9/26/14

Brain Science for Writers roundups are sporadic collections of psychology and neuroscience articles that I find to be interesting and/or useful for writers. 

Featured Link: An awesome map of where emotions are felt in the body.

We use the same brain regions to process physical, emotional, and abstract distance.

Reading a story can change how you perceive yourself, but only if you're highly engaged in it.

Everybody wants to be happy, right?  Not at all.  In fact, many cultures fear or avoid happiness.

Need to improve reading comprehension?  Try acting it out.

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Brain Science for Writers Roundup 9/19/14

Top Pick:  A fascinating video on brain changes while people are listening to a story, and how those changes predict behavior.  I'm not quite sure I agree with their conclusions about any specific type of story structure, but still, very interesting.

When are jokes about a tragedy funny rather than offensive?

Apparently there's a link between hotter temperatures and increased violence.

An interesting article about a language in which smell is described much more specifically than in English. Takeaway for writers?  "Even if language doesn’t strictly limit the concepts you’re able to think about, it’s still easier to notice distinctions if you can put them into words. Which means that if you take the time to recognize the nuances of your favorite scents, you may find yourself developing a more elaborate smell vocabulary of your own."

One professor argues why digital reading is bad for a humanities education.  (via Passive Guy)



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Brain Science for Writers Roundup 9/12/2014

Moving into fall now!  I just turned in the first draft of the sequel to Midnight Thief, so I'm taking a few days to decompress and catch up on blogging :-)

An excellent article about creativity, from a neuroscientist who studies it. (via @artsylliu)

Men who are ashamed of their bodies are more prone to sexual aggression against women. Some useful character building ideas here -- the interaction between self image and aggression toward others.

We're more scared of things that are moving toward us. This definitely has applications in film, though there might be some creative applications in writing as well.

An interesting article about how your emotional state can influence how you perceive others.

Writing about love makes things taste sweeter. This love-sweet connection is a useful one to keep in mind.



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Different Viewpoints Different Worlds

Note:  Did I mention that Midnight Thief released a few weeks ago?  Well, it did :-)

And onto the topic of the day....
In my predominantly white/Hispanic middle school, we watch Disney’s The Little Mermaid and discuss the themes. I’ve drawn the conclusion that the story is a fairy tale about a young girl who’s rewarded for disobeying her parents. To my surprise, everybody else frames it as a positive story of Ariel following her dreams, breaking free of societal expectation and finding true love.

Fast forward several years and I’m in college, hanging out with a group of Asian American friends. The Little Mermaid comes up in conversation, and someone remarks that the story is a fable about selfish behavior paying off. This time, people nod in agreement and the conversation moves on without a hiccup. Apparently that conclusion is a no brainer for a group of people who grew up in a society that valued filial piety above all else.

I guest posted at Diversity in YA a few weeks ago about being an Asian American writer and what that means.  See the rest of the post here.

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Brain Science for Writers Roundup 7-5-14

Midnight Thief launches in three days!  Remember, I'm sending signed bookmarks and bookplates to people who preorder!  Details here.

And... on to brain science links.


Here's an interesting article on the components of creativity.

I love this thoughtful piece from Maria Konnikova analyzing the factors that turned Frozen into a hit.


Having a group brainstorming session?  Try standing up! 

Here's a useful character building tidbit. Men with wider faces are better fighters.  They're also perceived to be more dangerous by others.

A researcher in Germany is scanning the brains of writers while they're writing.  I agree with Pinker that this is definitely a very rough look so far, and it's unclear what it all means, but still interesting!



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Interview with MIDNIGHT THIEF's cover designer. And win a signed hardcover!

The bookstore at the Ontario Teen Bookfest. Do you see MIDNIGHT THIEF?

Note: I'm still giving signed bookplates to people who preorder.  See details here.

While I've always theoretically understood the importance of good cover art, but I didn't really appreciate it until the months before Midnight Thief's release.

Disney-Hyperion really hit it out of the park with this one.  As soon as the cover went up on goodreads, people started telling me they became interested in the book because of the cover.  And when Midnight Thief went on sale for the first time at Ontario Teen Book Fest (yes, we released 20 copies early for the festival!) I saw people crossing the room to pick up the book because the art caught their eye.  We sold out all 20 copies around lunchtime, and given that I was a complete unknown who didn't even technically have a book out yet, it can only be because of the cover art and description.

Today I'm thrilled to have my cover designer Tanya Ross-Hughes over to talk a little bit about the design process. And stick around after the interview because I'm giving away a signed finished copy of Midnight Thief!