As a philosopher one of the things I love most is finding phrases with many layers of meaning. Constructs of the Mind is one of those phrases.
I initially chose this title to talk about the mechanistic approach to Imagination:
How might the mind be like a mechanism and how can we as writers use that?
Those are the questions I intend to address and if you have any ideas please comment below so we can begin a debate on this issue!
When planning a story how many of you construct the images of what is happening in your scenes? I know I do. The more times you run through a scene the more layers of details you can add and the more real it becomes. The more real it becomes to you, the more real you can make it for the reader. The trick then is translating your vision into words for the reader to see what you see.
The good news is the reader is going to create their own constructs from your words, so don’t get hung up this! As long as you see it, and you convey the action and the feeling, the reader will create their own constructs using the power of their own minds.
We all understand things based on our experiences and influences and as individual’s those are all unique, even within the confines of a common culture. With that in mind, it may not be all that clear what I mean by constructing scenes in this way. I use something which I’ve come to realise is Active Imagination, which is a visualisation tool used by many to control dreams or for shamanic experiences. I have never managed either successfully, but what I can do is Daydream.
The next layer of meaning to this phrase is psychological. We have as individuals learned a set of behaviours and characteristics which have become a framework upon which our characters are born.
These are constructs because they are not WHO we are but CONSTRUCTS of our PERSONALITY that help us function in the outer world.
For example, as a child I learned that helping my parents with things was good, I was appreciated and loved more when I was kind and helpful. Great you think, yes? Not necessarily. Fast forward twenty years and this same construct of the mind was no longer serving me because the people I was then helping were simply taking advantage and I no longer received the benefits i.e. love and/or affection.
Incidentally, this construct I have modified and now is built upon the benefit to humanity if kindness was more prevalent, and the idea that kindness is contagious.
Constructs are often learned during key moments in our life and they can be very hard to unlearn: it takes time and patience with yourself. Many constructs are similar for many people though they may have been built for different reasons or from different influences. Hence why other people will read and construct your words in their own way based on what they know and understand and how their Constructs of the Mind perceive and interact with the world.
With me so far? Or have I blown your mind?! How about this:
In essence a construct of the mind can be defined as: the belief that if I behave ‘this’ way I get ‘this’ result, and depending on the complexity of the belief’s construction, and the people you interact with, the construct will work to varying degrees of success.
So how can we as writers use this knowledge? In character building of course! There is a plethora of blogs out there talking about how to flesh out a character, develop a character, and character versus characterisation… Here are a links to some I found doing a simple google search:
If people’s minds use constructs so too can our characters’. You’ve heard the writers saying, “Give your character a flaw, it makes them more believable”? Why not take this a step further and give them constructs of the mind. Give them a reason for their flaw.