I'm a math chick. I know I've mentioned this before. I spent twelve years teaching the subject and an entire college career studying it. The thing is, I love Mathematics. I love the patterns in it; I love the truth in it; I love the way all of Nature seems to be built around it. Mathematics is seen by many as this exceedingly formulaic, boring and stagnant subject, but what it is, when you can see all it touches is beauty and art.
I am also a writer. This you have come to know, and I've mentioned this before as well. I've spent a lifetime steeping myself in stories. I read them; I told them; I wrote some of them down. What I always saw was the beauty and the art in each of the stories, but I believed that beneath it all,
Perhaps this is the inner mathematician striving to make sense of every beautiful thing she comes in contact with. I don't know. What I do know, however, is that Larry Brooks is bringing this pattern to light for me. He is not stripping away the art or the beauty that lies within the worlds our words create, he is simply showing me their underpinnings. He is showing me the math behind the natural world of the story.
In introducing this structure that he argues is present in all stories and screenplays, Brooks discusses the resistance he often runs into from writers who argue this type of thinking is too formulaic. Brooks says he is not instructing the reader how they should write the story - you can still be a pantser, if you like to just let things flow; or be a plotter if you'd rather plan ahead - either way, there is a structure, a core that lies beneath the story no matter which approach you take.
I can not fully express to you how closely this rides to discussions in math education. The argument rallies on over whether mathematics should be taught procedurally (this is akin to our plotting writers - set up the rules ahead of time, then dive in) or through problem solving and discovery (like our pantsers, problems solvers dive in, start working, make mistakes, start over, make discoveries along the way and unearth the rules for mathematics as the problems are solved). Whichever teaching technique is employed, the mathematics at its core remains the same.
There is so much in this book that simply makes sense to me and, I believe, will make me a much better writer as a whole. When I have completed it I will be sure to write a thorough book review discussing Brooks' thesis in full. For today, I simply wanted to share with you my most current book love experience. The book that has currently enthralled me and pulled in my conscious and subconscious thoughts toward it. While I am reading these days, with pen and notebook in hand, I am thinking of stories, of structures, patterns, architecture and the beauty that they all create. It's a wonderful read and I just wanted to let you know!
Writers: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Math Minds: Do you think math is best taught procedurally or through problems solving?
Readers: Do you believe there is an inherent structure in all stories you read? Why or why not?