I’m not sure how many people know what an infographic is yet I’m sure we’ve all seen them somewhere on the internet. Infographics are those images which present bite-size pieces of information on a variety of topics. Usually the images look like that would make a great poster and many are available for downloading and printing.
I recently found an interesting reading and writing related infographic. I thought it would be fun to write about my thoughts on the one shown below. One caution is the information presented doesn’t cite its sources so don’t take it or my reactions as 100% truth.
Let’s start the information about the brain. In what seems like a duh type of statement, the physical act of writing something down triggers something within the brain to remember what it better. Probably why many of us had teachers who yelled at us to take notes. Or why the older we get the more important it is to write information down. It’s interesting to learn that the connection our body makes from the mental to the physical is something that can’t be replicated any other way.
Also according to the infographic, when we engage our body and brain in the act of writing we pay more attention to what we are doing. Perhaps this is way one a piece of advice given to writers is to carry a notebook or notepad around in case a name, story idea, dialogue, anything pops up we can commit it down before it leaves our minds.
Moving down the graph let’s next look at the information presented about why telling a story is better than presenting just facts. I find this perhaps to be the most interesting because telling a story doesn’t have to be limited to a novel or short story. Thinking back to my school days I originally didn’t have an interest in history. In elementary school it was only about dates, people, and places. Just the facts, ma’am. I found this boring and dry. It wasn’t until 8th grade that I began to appreciate history and that was due to having a teacher who presented it not as simply a collection of fact but as a story. After all history is about people and events in history have several sides of a story to tell.
The same is true for storytelling. While a pared down reporting style can work to tell an effective story, Ernest Hemingway comes to mind, a reader is more engaged if it is beyond just the facts. Even non-fiction writers have realized this. Memoirists in particular must still tell a story even though everything is rooted in real life. Reading is its most pleasurable when the reader can feel an emotional connection to the story which is hard to do when the author just reports what’s going on.
What is also fascinating about the infographic is how our brains engage more when there is action in the story. That doesn’t necessarily mean a complicated action sequence reminiscent of James Bond, but even a little bit of action stimulates our brain. We respond well to what we can visualize if what the author includes well-written action.
Next we come down to why clichés should be avoided. I’m not going to spend much time on this since yeah, makes sense. The first few times we hear a phrase, and it’s memorable, it sticks in our brains. After a while of reading or hearing it, it becomes white noise. Got it.
Finally we come to some miscellaneous facts about writing and reading. Nice mixtures of fun facts, like an overwhelming majority of us write our name when trying out a new pen. And more disturbing information like many UK teens only have the literacy level of a ten-year-old. Maybe if they read more books their vocabulary and reading comprehension would improve. Not really anything too earth-shattering there either.