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Friday, 29 April 2011


Representing Thoughts 


These are some preliminary ideas.  Please add any of your own.  Not sure of the list of types of thinking is right.

In a sense, of course, anything you write down is a ‘thought’.   But in a story or poem, or any kind of writing you often have people thinking.   They may be thinking about something or someone, when they visualise, image, recall significant moments or details.   Their thoughts may be secret, quite different from what their actions suggest.   They may jump up involuntarily.  They may creep up on them.   They may think in a particular way by habit, always suspicious of others' motives, always turning things round to themselves.

Below I've made a list (speculative) of some different kinds of thinking people, characters, narrators do.  For example someone may just be 'thinking about'  something, someone, somewhere.

1        Thinking about, mind drifting,
2       Planning, plotting
3       Recalling, reminiscing, reconstructing
4       Interpreting, speculating, analysing
5        Dreaming,  nightmaring, 
6       Worrying, agonising,
7       Fantasising, envisioning, inventing
8       Empathising       
9       Losing it
10      ?

So I, or a character,  may be thinking ‘about Grandma’,   letting my mind drift in recalling how she looked, the Welsh accent she had,  how she was obsessed with keeping the birds off the blackcurrant bush,   her stories about old time.     This kind of thinking is associative:   one thought suggests another, and you move on and on without any clear direction or reasoning and plan.   It’s mainly going to be imagining physical images, sounds, textures.  How well you represent it will depend on how good your images are, and how far they seem authentic.

But if I am planning something, such as working out a strategy for marrying the rich daughter,   my thinking will need to be to some extent logical, how one thing’s going to lead to another;  how this or that way of behaving will deceive this or that person.    It will require some factual ‘research’ into the family.   It might, at a later point in the text, require a re-plan, a plan B.  The planning may be (mainly) logical, but it will probably need to have an emotional driving force.  I'm planning to get back to X for making me loose my job.   I'm desperately poor and in debt and must have a rich wife.

Both of these two, thinking about, and planning, crop up as part of the other kinds of story/poem/play/biography ‘thinking’ lower down on the list.

So ‘recalling’ overlaps with ‘thinking about’,  but recalling in a story may not be just a part of a general thinking about someone or something;  it may be a close reconstruction of the past, in loving detail, or in scientific detail, that is like a disappointed lover, or a careful detected.  What happened?  I may recall something to relive it in all its lost detail, or in order to find the missing detail that’s been plaguing my memory or my conscience all this time. I may get myself hypnotised to find it.   So here ‘recalling’ is also a kind of ‘analysing’  As the writer of the text I might want to hold back this key detail until the end.   The last detail may act, like the last bit of evidence in a detective story, as an explanation.

Or a character may interprete, as a detective might in reviewing the possible perpetrators of the crime,  or as the lover might trying to work out what the admired on meant by that apparently throw away remark, or that sideways look.

Speculating and analysing won’t work unless a situation has already been built up in which there is something for the reader and the characters/narrator to be concerned about.

Dreaming, taken literally, is where another kind of ‘logic’ and ‘space’ take over, and one thing follows from another in a different way from waking experience.  Traditionally dreams seem chaotic but turn out to have a deeper meaning, prophetic, psychological, or other.   In representing the dream unexpected things, people, events, have to be pushed together, an apparently sensible storyline has to be suddenly broken off, as when the car your driving lifts into the air.  

To be continue, revised, reviewed. . . 


  1. Another kind of ‘logic’ and ‘space’ are what always send me rushing for a pencil! I need the sudden unasked, flash from elsewhere to set me off. Logic very seldom works as a trigger for me...But at least I have enough logic to find and read your blog! Hehehe!

  2. Of course there IS always the idea of a loony logic associated with dreams. I imagine you relate pretty well to that?

    I has hearing on 'Start the Week' that we don't have any 'logical' self or soul or personality. It's just a story we make up. That's interesting.

  3. Loony logic I can probably do very well. In fact, I may have invented it... Intuition is far more me than logic - although in practical matters a logical streak pokes its nose in, unasked.

    I think it's about time some of the other class members got into this blogging lark...Where are they all? :)

  4. Somewhere in the vast sprawl of the "Alexandria Quartet", Lawrence Durrell says (words to the effect that) "There is no such thing as 'self' There is only the selection of fictions about ourselves that we choose to present to others."