Saturday, March 27, 2010

Think or Wonder?

There are two kinds of writers: those who make you think and those who make you wonder.
- Brian Aldiss

Do you agree? I'm still deciding. Some authors definitely make me think. Others make me wonder. But isn't it possible to do both at the same time? I think it is, but, just for fun, let's assume it's not.

Which would you prefer?

I would choose wonder. In a heartbeat.

Don't get me wrong, I want to make people think. As a teacher, I try really hard (and even succeed sometimes!) to get kids to think. I'm not a teacher who uses worksheets or text books. I pose puzzles and questions and problems and ask the kids to solve them. Using any strategies they prefer. Showcasing their own learning styles and intelligences. Working in groups, brainstorming, taking risks in order to stretch their brains. Thinking is good!

But...

I totally agree with the Albert Einstein quote I mentioned in the last post - Imagination is more important than knowledge.

For me, it's wonder that brings success, wonder that leads to discussions, questions and possibilities. Wonder not only breeds fantasy and scifi, but all the other genres as well.

Most of you know I've worked with many kids who live & somehow do more than survive in very difficult situations. Wonder is a survival tool for them. It lets them thrive against the odds.

On the other hand, we need words and books to make us think... *sigh*

So, which kind of writer are you? Will your story make me think or wonder?
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I've been negligent with my blog awards again! Jackee over at Winded Words awarded me the Sunshine Award! Thanks Jackee - a little bit of sunshine is just what I need. :)

Yvonne Osborne at The Organic Writer and Julie Dao at Silver Lining both awarded me the Prolific Blogger Award. Thanks ladies!

All three of these bloggers have uplifting, enjoyable blogs - you won't regret visiting any of them! Enjoy :) I'll get to the rest next post. This one is already too long!

97 comments:

  1. Bummer! I think my writing is geared more toward inducing thinking....

    When reading, I like both though.

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  2. I like to write with 'wonder' in mind. In most areas of my life, the focus is on knowledge, but when it comes to books and movies, I prefer to let my imagination go and escape.

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  3. As much as like Brian Aldiss and had kind of forgotten that - I don't agree - the very best books make you think and make you wonder! Wondering is thinking, no? Wolf Hall made me think about the politics of that very interesting time (Henry V111's court) and compare it to today's politics. It also made me wonder about how I had believed Cromwell to be...well...evil and now I was liking him a great deal. How did she do that? I wondered. I can't believe I'd edit Brian Aldiss but I'm going to - I think he means "there are writers who make you think and ones who invoke a sense of wonder" There, that's better - changing the world - one word at a time.

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  4. I love both when I'm reading as well. They both appeal to different parts of my brain and my heart. :)

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  5. Alex - I think I do too. I've always loved scifi & fantasy - & wonder is one of the joys in my life :)

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  6. Jan - I like it! There are so many authors who do both for me. Anne McCaffrey is one, but there are so many more. I like your edits.

    Have to admit - I edited the quote too - to say 'who' instead of 'that'. Sorry Brian!

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  7. Wow, I have to admit, this post is making me wonder whether my stories cause readers to think or wonder, and thus prompting me to think about it. I'm getting dizzy, haha. I'm actually not sure which of those my books accomplish, if any, but I'd be interested to find out once I have more readers.

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  8. Shelley - lol :) I was getting kind of dizzy myself.

    I finally decided the Steampunk genre itself would be more prone to wondering and the romantic mysteries would lean towards thinking.

    Maybe :)

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  9. I strive to make people think and wonder both, but also to make them laugh. I approach heavy subjects with humor so while I can bring up a topic and cause a reader to think on it, I do it in a way that amuses without being preachy or too deep. I write fantasy, so I'm all about the wonder, too. Great post!

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  10. Christi - laughing is good too!

    That's the best way to deal with heavy subjects - humour can take you a long way.

    Fantasy is all about the wonder, indeed!

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  11. I think I would prefer wonder as well, but I'm not sure how well I do at it! Writing is a journey, and I'm still learning how to pass on the wonder I feel with books.

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  12. I agree, I prefer wonder as well.

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  13. *Whining* I want to do both!

    I'd rather make readers think because, once they start thinking, they'll start wondering. One thing leads to another and before they know it, they're dizzy, like Shelley said.

    That's the mark of a great writer, I think: accomplishing one thing that gets the reader to do the other thing.

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  14. Congratulations on the awards. I like books that make me think and wonder. Besides you can't really wonder without thinking about it, can you? At the same time you can't really think without wondering. I'd say they go hand and hand.

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  15. I think I'd rather read a book that made me wonder than one that made me think. Although, of course, thinking is good.

    Speaking of thinking, I think my fiction makes readers feel.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  16. Wonder all the way! When I was little, I used books as a way to escape (not necessarily survive, like some of your students) but just escape for a little while. I think it's the wonder that made that possible.

    Hearing that wonder is a survival skill for some kids makes me tear up. That's why we do this.

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  17. I like books that make me think. When I hear "wonder," my mind goes more to the suspension of belief aspect of books. Although I love getting lost in a book and think that's an essential mark for an author to hit, I am less excited by fantastical or mind-blowing concepts. I do like stories whose characters struggle with universal truths, that attempt to help me think about the human condition in a new way.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about!

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  18. Tiana - well said! That's exactly how I feel. I hope to one day have the ability to pass on that wonder :)

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  19. Aubrie - wonder is so much fun, isn't it? :)

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  20. E - really good point! I love that - one thing lead to another - so very true!

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  21. Mason - hand in hand indeed. I think both thinking and wonder lead to all kinds of positive results!

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  22. Helen - great point! I always write from an emotional standpoint - comes from being a complete & total sap I think. :) A book that makes me feel is one I'll never forget!

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  23. Lisa/Laura - I agree - those kids make me so glad I'm able to help them, even if it's in some small way. Introducing wonder is one of the best parts of teaching.

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  24. Nicole - well put! One of the books that really made me think was 1984. Not what I would call a favourite book - not one I'd reread, but a thinker for sure. The ideas are so powerful. Great point!

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  25. Of course, I would love books that make me wonder, especially books that make me wonder how the authors came up with such crazy but "wonder"-ful ideas!

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  26. I often think, I wonder if I could write as well or better than the author of the book I have just finished reading....;-)

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  27. As a reader I love to escape, falling into someone else's world. For that happens with both elements.

    I could never choose! Ack!

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  28. Harvee - yes - two of my favourite authors are ones who make me wonder because they create such incredible worlds - Tolkein & McCaffrey.

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  29. Jarmara - once we put on our writers' hats, it's amazing how much more we "see" - even in our favoutie books :)

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  30. Tamika - lol :) It's such a tough choice, isn't it? I like authors on both sides of the equations.

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  31. I guess I like to go back and forth, you know? Possibly even within the same book. Of course, my definition of "think" and "wonder" may be different from yours! Or anyone's.

    I try to do both in my own writing, but if I could only choose one, I'd definitely go with the crowd and say "wonder." It's what got me through many tough parts of growing up, what makes me want to write, and what makes me want to teach.

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  32. Congrats on the well-deserved awards, Jemi!

    Oh dear, I can't separate wonder and think. They're one and the same for me. Think probably comes first since I'm annoyingly pragmatic, but wonder naturally follows. Suppose if I *have* to choose it would be think, but only because it's my personal path to wonder. :)

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  33. Summer - you're right - it all depends on the mood and the book :) Thinking & wondering are such wonderful tools to teach kids!

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  34. Thanks VR :)

    I love how everyone perceives this question just a little bit differently! They are so connected!

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  35. I think I'm more of a wonder writer and reader. Congrats on more awards, Jemi! :-)

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  36. Ooh, what a great post! I hope my writing inspires people to wonder-- wonder if the story is true, wonder if it's real, and wonder if it could ever happen to them. :)

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  37. Thanks Shannon :)

    It seems more of us are wonderers today!

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  38. TK - thanks :)

    That's how I feel too. Wonder has so much power and potential!

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  39. Awe and wonder is great and all but thoughtprovoking - to me - suggests the reader would believe that something they had read was achievable. Awe which naturally teams with wonder is so ethereal.
    A great post, Jemi - made me think - thoughtprovoking ;)

    wv foolest???

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  40. Elaine - good point! Keeping it real enough to touch and to believe is important for so many stories. I guess it all depends on our aim, doesn't it?

    Word Verification was harrassing me a few weeks back, so I'm assuming the insult is aimed in my direction :)

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  41. I think we need a bit of both. There are times I like to read something where I might not have to think so hard about it, rather drown in the wonder and mystery.

    As for my own writing, it's all about the unexpected, a bit of mystery which I believe falls under wonder. (Hugs)Indigo

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  42. Indigo - nice imagery! "Drown in the wonder and mystery" Lovely.

    I think mystery does fall under wonder. Although an argument could be made for think as well :)

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  43. Gosh, this is hurting my brain. lol. I don't know if my manuscript will make people wonder or think. I do know that my story came about because *I* wondered what would happen if an innocent man was held as an enemy combatant. I hope I will make people think though too, because I presented the other side too.(the governement's side) In fact, I almost named the story Shades of Gray because that's what it is to me.

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  44. Mary - lol :) It is a bit dizzying isn't it?

    I like the title Shades of Gray too - definitely sounds like a book that would make me think. Probably wonder a bit too :)

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  45. What a beautiful person you are Jemi.

    I would like to think and wonder at the same time; but if it comes down to it, my practical mind needs to think. I am sure that is why I like so many of the older fantasy writers - Terry Brooks, Stephen R Donaldson, David Eddings, Katherine Kurtz. Though the books are entertaining and full of wonder, there is a clear philosophical message in the works, and it gets me thinking about religious and societal norms.

    I read Jodi Piccoult and Sandra Brown and the occasional James Patterson for the same reason.

    But give me a Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Ramsey Campbell or John Grisham for pure wonder.

    I'm warped; I know.

    ........dhole

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  46. I've never thought about this - should I have??
    I guess my writing is more geared towards thinking... I think...
    :)

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  47. Donna - thank you so much - what a lovely thing to say!!

    I enjoy Eddings and Brooks, but haven't read those other fantasy authors - I'll put them on my list :)

    You're braver than I am - the last horror book I read was The Shining back in high school. Still have nightmares!! :)

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  48. Michelle - lol :)

    It's just fun! Think and wonder are often intertwined. How many of our ideas start with 'I think...' or 'I wonder...'

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  49. You bring up a very interesting question. Thinking and wondering -- There's such a fine line between the two of them. I think I'm going to have to agree with you and say that I prefer to wonder too. This blog got me thinking.... and wondering at the same time. ;-)

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  50. MDD - the line is definitely fine between the two. I'm glad it got you thinking & wondering :)

    Thanks for dropping by!

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  51. As a reader I like to wonder. And my books are solely written for entertainment...not to provoke thought. :)

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  52. Elizabeth - I've read Pretty is as Pretty Dies - (which is fantastic by the way!) - I know I wondered all the way through what Myrtle was going to do next!!

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  53. Boo, I would want to have both too Jemi. Ha.

    But I guess if I had to choose -- it would probably be wonder. Especially since I write mostly speculative fiction -- I'm always writing about the "what if?" stuff, which I would want my readers to start wondering "What I would do in this situation?"

    Or would that be considered thinking? Ha. I don't know.

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  54. Noticed you already got a Sunshine Award--but I'm giving you another one, cuz you totally deserve it. It's hanging out on my NEW blog for you! (marybrebner.blogspot.com) You're so supportive and encouraging!

    Oh, and I love it when a book has me wondering...

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  55. Womder for me. I like to make people wonder, "Yeah, what if ...I hadn't thought of this possibility before, but I wonder if it really could happen or it really is so?"

    Stephen Tremp"

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  56. You make a good argument - I'd have to choose wonder. And you sound like a wonderful teacher!

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  57. You make a great argument and I'd have to say it depends on what I'm reading. If I'm enjoying a good YA, I want it filled with wonder. That's why I enjoyed the Harry Potter series so much. They mysteries also made you think a bit, which is always worthwhile. If I'm reading adult lit, I want to be made to think and feel and long for the unexpected.

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  58. Karen - lol :) That's exactly the trap I find myself looping inside!

    I would put spec fic under the wonder umbrella - I think :)

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  59. Mary - Thanks so much - you're such a sweetie :) I'll pop on over!

    I love wondering as well - so much fun!

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  60. Stephen - yes, I'm a wondering kind a person too :)

    To get people to do this is definitely an aim!

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  61. Thanks Susan - I do love my job and "my" kids :)

    Another vote for wonder! :)

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  62. Victoria - so true! It really does matter what mood I'm in and what kind of book. I like a LOT of genres - for both reading adn writing!

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  63. I love that pic you used.

    My books will mostly implore you to think, but I also hope they will make you wonder what kind of friend you are.

    Also, congrats on your awards!!

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  64. Thanks DL - I thought it was totally awesome pic!

    Ooo - your book sounds interesting! I love books that do both :)

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  65. Happy Sunday. I left a blog award for you on my blog.
    http://sharifwrites.blogspot.com

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  66. Thanks Medeia - I'll pop on over! :)

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  67. People who don't dream and wonder are the unfortunates in this world. When I read, I want to go somewhere, be somewhere else and experience something new, Does that help?

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  68. Rosalind - excellent point! I like to enjoy my books more than think about them to. Although some of those thinkers have stayed with me for a loooooong time.

    Thanks - I hope so. Kids deserve so much from us. We need to give them every advantage we can!

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  69. Lucy and/or Dick - I'm with you - so much fun to travel with the books. I've been so many wonderful places - some I'd never want to visit in reality, but wonderful nonetheless! Yes it helps :)

    Thanks so much for dropping by!

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  70. I'm trying for both in my current wip, but if I could only achieve one, it would be wonder. That's what makes you fall in love, what lifts your heart and soul. Thinking can entertain for an afternoon or two, but it doesn't make you feel alive.

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  71. Lorel - I totally agree! Wonder is part joy, part hope. We need it to thrive :)

    Love your phrasing - just beautiful!

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  72. Great post Jemi.

    I for one, am sure it's possible to make your readers both think and wonder, (though in Jan's comment earlier, I think she was taking the 'ponder over' definition of 'wonder' rather than the 'experience awe' definition, so both her reactions really amounted to being made to think.)

    Science fiction is a prime example of a genre that makes you both think and wonder.

    The realism of it & the familiarity that links it to things we experience in 'real life' makes the reader think, but then again the fantastic aspect of it, the themes that take it beyond familiar science should always instill wonder in the reader too.

    Fantasy on the other hand is all about 'wonder' requiring no real world justification for any part of the story.

    A fantasy story that just makes you wonder though, is nothing compared to one that makes you think as well. It's just more difficult to build in the 'make them think' aspects in a fantasy story, because you have to establish some 'rules' to give your reader a chance to discover the plot resolutions themselves.

    This is somewhere that I feel that ('Mrs-make-it-up-as-she-goes-along') JK Rowling fails. Her stories are all wonder and no thinking. Plots are resolved with no logic involved, no explanation given, and no apologies to the reader, usually explained by one of the characters introducing yet another fantastic concept that Ms Rowling has just decided on ('just thought of?') specifically to finalize and justify her plot.

    This is always the first time the said idea has been mentioned in the book, or in the series. There has been no way her readers could foresee this, or work it out for themselves, therefore no thinking was required.

    Many people will excuse this as saying that the books are designed for children, but shouldn't that be even more of a reason to encourage the readership to think?

    Sorry about waffling again Jemi. (You must hate it when you see my comments.)

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  73. Au contraire, Dave! I love your comments!

    I always enjoy hearing how people think - how they analyze things - part of being a teacher I guess.

    I really enjoy the Harry Potter series, but you're right, there are a lot of 'where did that come from?' moments.

    I've always been a fan of both fantasy & scifi, but fantasy tends to steal my heart more than scifi - probably those wonder elements again :)

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  74. I am not inclined to agree with that quote. Wonder and thinking are closely related, intertwined....not mutually exclusive. I believe that most writers write in hopes of accomplishing both....perhaps neither.

    Maybe they just want to make their readers laugh.

    I write for all of the above (laugh, think, wonder), but most of all I hope to make my readers FEEL.

    Great post, Jemi, as usual.

    Happy Monday.

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  75. Hmmm..interesting question. Maybe I'm reading different kinds of books. LOL Because I like authors who make me "feel"--whether it laugh or cry, etc...
    Congrats on the awards!

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  76. I would also choose wonder over think when I'm writing, for sure! Wonder has a magical quality to it. There's nothing like an imagination to help you create stories. Congrats on your awards!

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  77. I'll vote for both! Or should I say strive to accomplish both?

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  78. I kind of think of 'thinking' as the first step and 'wondering' as the next step. Wondering happens when you've stopped putting conscious effort into it and your thoughts take over. So it's nice to have both in a book.

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  79. I think both.
    I love the new look!

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  80. I am totally in the camp that says a good book can and should do both. However, if I had to pick one, it would be wonder.

    Curiosity, joy, wonder and amazement are tickets to a happy life. Without wonderment, no amount of knowledge would matter. IMHO. For if the soul isn't free, then what good is it for the mind to know that freedom exists?

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  81. Thanks Lola :)

    I believe they're mostly intertwined as well. Emotion, as you say, is so important as well - it's the cornerstone for me!

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  82. Jennifer - thanks :)

    I think it does depend a lot on the genre. My fantasy books make me wonder the most, the mysteries cause an awful lot of thinking, romantic suspense makes me feel. But mostly they all combine a bit.

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  83. Thanks Julie!

    I love wonder - I love the power of it and the possibilities attached to it. It's well... wonderful :)

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  84. Elizabeth - I like it! I do love them both :)

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  85. Tamara - step by step - I like it! So, think becomes wonder - very nice :)

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  86. Carolyn - I don't mind voting for both either :)

    Thanks - I think the new template is going to work - still have a few glitches to work on though :)

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  87. Lovely Cat - just lovely!

    Wonder leads to so much - has so much potential. I completely agree :)

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  88. Jemi~ I would totally choose wonder over thinking too. I don't know for sure which I fall into though. Love the new look of your blog.
    Oh and btw, I couldn't take it anymore, so I redid that darn poster, yet again. It gives more info and I like it better.

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  89. Lisa - lol :) I'm obsessive about details like that too - I'd have a hard time stopping fiddling with the poster at all!

    It seems most of us vote for wonder :)

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  90. I would also choose wonder. Though both are important, I think having an imagination can really open so many worlds and possibilities. Great new look, btw!!

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  91. Calista - Wonder is, well, wonderful, isn't it!! :) Imagination is vital (for me anyway!)

    Thanks - hope I can get it all working!

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  92. First, I'd like to say I like the new look of your blog! And this is wierd because I just changed mine too!! Not sure yet if I like it....please tell me waht you think when you get a chance.

    About your question...For me they're intertwined. But I guess you have to have imagination to gather knowledge or does knowledge come first...hmm. It's too late for me to think straight. I'll have to come back to this one.

    Thanks for the linkage!!

    My word verification is later???
    What?

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  93. Thanks Yvonne - I still don't have it all working yet, so we'll see if it stays :)

    I can see thinking without wonder, but I have a hard time seeing wondering without thinking. It's not an easy answer!

    Later!

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  94. CONGRATULATIONS on your awards!!

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  95. It's all about the wonder for me. I hope that's what my manuscript will do for readers.

    Congrats on your blog awards!

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  96. Thanks Iva! :)

    Thanks for dropping by!

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  97. Thanks Carol :)

    I love wonder - so many of my favourite books have made we wonder and imagine!

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