Friday, August 12, 2011

Who's in control here, left brain or right?


Bonnie Ferguson


BJ @ Dark Side of the Covers


We've all heard the terms 'right brain' and 'left brain' and the theory that the right brain is home to our creative sides and the left to our logical. And most of us, I think, consider ourselves more one than the other. Creative or logical. Right-brained or left-brained. So which would you expect an engineer-turned-fiction writer to be? That's an interesting question, at least to me. Because it turns out, I am one. For the most part, I'm a logical person--calm, thoughtful, rarely emotional. So I always assumed I was firmly left-brained. Then I took a left-brain/right-brain quiz and landed squarely in the middle. It probably shouldn't have surprised me, considering I'm a novelist, but it did.

So what does this mean for my writing? Some days I feel like I'm two people battling for control of one brain. Here's my current situation: I'm finishing up the first book in my Vamp City series (which is a good thing since it's due in three weeks). The thing is, this series is different from the ones I've done before. Yes, it's a romance, but it's a multi-book romance with the same hero and heroine throughout. Five books, one story. The problem is, the left side of my brain (we'll call her Left-Brain Pamela, or LBP for short) is in a panic. And Right-Brained Pamela (RBP) is laughing at her.

LBP (in her neatly-pressed business casual work clothes): "We can't send the story out like this! It's only a fifth of the way done."
RBP (in gym shorts and bare feet): "Darling, it's the first book of five. Of course the story is only a fifth done. But we're sending it out anyway. It's due."
LBP (crossing her arms, expression turning mulish through the panic): "We don't know the rest of the story. What's going to happen in book 2 and book 3, let alone 4 and 5? And what about that character we were supposed to have saved at the end of book 1? We left them hanging!"
RBP (swaying to the music blasting from the stereo): "You worry too much."
LBP: "What if we get to book 3 and realize we should have set up something differently? What if we get to book 5 and find we should have set up EVERYTHING differently? What if...?"
RBP (giving a careless shrug): "We'll figure it out when we get there. We always do, you know that. We always write this way."
LBP (throwing up her hands): "That's the problem! I hate writing this way. I need to know what's going to happen. Everything that's going to happen. Now. Before we write it."
RBP: "You always say that and every time I let you try to map out the whole story in advance, it never works out."
LBP: "It would work if you didn't always yell, 'Stop! The character wouldn't DO that.'"
RBP: "Well, he wouldn't."
LBP (getting that mulish look again): "It still would have worked."
RBP: "No, it wouldn't. You can't force the characters to do something they don't want to do just because you thought it might work before we started writing the story." (smiling gently): "I know you like to control every aspect of the process, but it doesn't work that way. Not for us. It's best to discover the story as we go along."
LBP (expression starting to turn panicked again): "But this story isn't one book. It's five! And once the first one is on the shelves, there's not going to be any going back to change it."
RBP: "Of course not. But that's real life, doll. We rarely get to go back and fix things. We have to deal with the situation that exists, not the one we wish existed."
LBP: "But we're writing fiction. It has to work out in the end."
RBP (smiling): "That's where you come in. That's what you're so good at."
LBP (huffing with an exasperated roll of the eyes): "So it's all going to be up to me to get us out of this mess."
RBP (laughing): "What mess? It's unexplored territory, that's all. And we'll find our way through together as we always do. I'll think up all kinds of exciting twists and turns and you'll sort them into one logical series of events after another. It'll all work out, you'll see."

So now you know what a day in my brain is like. And if you were wondering if all authors are a little crazy, I've probably answered your question.

Actually, LBP has been hounding me for the past couple of weeks (ever since I finished the first draft of this book). "I need to know what's going to happen in the rest of the series. I need to know, I need to know!" I finally heard RBP's calm, reassuring voice through the racket this morning and LBP's voice began to die down. There are still things I want to make sure I've thought about and looked at, but I'm no longer crazed about knowing the whole story up front. I can't know it, not really. Not until I write it. And I don't need to. I haven't with any of the books I've written yet and all have been part of a series, if not quite as intertwined as the Vamp City series is going to be.

Come September 1st, when Vamp City book 1 (A Blood Seduction), is off to my editor, I'll be setting aside the entire series for six months as I dive back into the Feral world to write Feral Warriors #7. LBP will be in a minor panic, as usual, preparing to read all six of the previous Feral Warrior books to make sure she's one hundred percent back into that world as she gathers plotting charts and character charts and various other tools. Meanwhile, RBP will be kicking back on the sofa with the the t.v. remote in hand and a stack of movies by her side as she prepares to launch into her favorite activity to fill the creative well--a good old fashioned movie marathon.

And it will all begin again.

If you're interested in taking a left-brained/right-brained quiz yourself, here's a quick one:

I'm giving away a signed copy of one of my books to three commenters. Your choice. If you take the quiz, tell me what you thought of it and if you were surprised by the results. If not, just tell me whether you think you're more right-brained or more left-brained. Or, like me, if you come down squarely in the middle.


alainala said...

apparently i am more left brained (12) then right (7).. although a couple of the questions were strange.. do i tilt my head left or right? depends on which side of me the person asking the questions is on!
interesting to know, and thanks for the contest! i hope i win!

sin said...

Interesting: Left 6 - Right 7

Hummm wonder what this says about me :)

Pamela good luck with the new series. Look forward to reading it. Would love to win also. *grin*

Anonymous said...

I got Left 8 and Right 6. Thanks for the fun quiz. :)

Heather said...

Left 9, right 11. So I believe its more the middle of my brain and not just one side since my results were so close. This was too funny! Can't wait for the next Feral!!

Cate said...

Left 10, right 7. That was a very interesting test. I have not considered myself as left sided brain dominant. Thanks for the test and the give away.

SandyG265 said...

I'm more logical than creative. I would have thought I'd come out in the middle.

sgiden at

Anonymous said...

My results=
Left Brain Dominance: 11(11)
Right Brain Dominance: 8(8)
Hmm I'm thinking that maybe when they cut mt tumor out 12 yrs ago my left side grew big even stronger. Joking here. : ) But really I never though which was more dominant. I am just an easy going-open minded female who speaks her mind and if anyone don' like me or what I say then it's their loss. Thanks for the quiz, gives me something to think about.
Can't wait for the book to come out.

Amy Valentini said...

Hi Pamela,
Thanks for the quiz. It didn't surprise me too much because I've always been the creative type but I did think I was more logical than what it told me. Left Brain: 6 and Right Brain: 13 - just thought it would be more equal. Here I thought I was more the organized, logical type and it seems I'm more creatively unusual. : )
Currently reading HUNGER UNTAMED and loving it - nearly finished though so I would love to win a copy of ECSTASY UNTAMED. Each time I read one of the Feral Warrior novels, I fall for the one I've just read - thought I'd never like Kougar as much as Jag's bad boy but he's totally sucked me in. : )
Thanks for the fun blog and good luck with the new series. My creative instincts tell me it will be great. xox

Alicia and Amy said...

I go left 10 right 6.

I guess that suits me pretty well!


Raonaid Luckwell said...

Right brain dominance (9) Left Brain (6)

Which I'm not really surprised. My freshman year of high school, our Economics teacher taught Psych ed at the college, so we were his guniea pigs at times (Oh he was a GREAT teacher very loved)

He made a couple students (I was one) wait outside in the hall. Students/teachers smirked as they walked path when they heard we were from his class. So they knew he was doing an experiment.

He would call each of us chosen in one at a time. We had to sit at the potium, and he would instruct us to stare at a particular brick and then ask questions. Simple ones like "What is two plus two". Then without looking down at the page, draw a circle, draw a square.

It was to decide which side of the brain we used. Couple students told me it was hard to tell with me since unlike the others I kept staring at that point but in the end they said I my right side of the brain dominated.

That was fun though! Some I had to really stop and think about.

Anonymous said...

Left Brain 7 right brain 9 now the rest of the day i'm going to see how my head turns when someone asks me a questions LOL!

bkwrm26 at yahoo dot com

Mystic said...

.Left Brain Dominance:7
Right Brain Dominance:8

I was stumped a little with which way my head turns when someone asks me a question so, I answered no to both right and left. Then, I completely proved myself wrong. While reading a question toward the end of the quiz, and then pondering on it, my head turned left on its own Thanks for the quiz and the self-discovery, Pamela, it was fun!

BJ said...

Well that was a fun quiz....LOL

Left Brain Dominance: (6)
Right Brain Dominance: (10)
I knew I couldn't be too lefty, never saw a lawyer wearing toe socks before....LOL!!!!

Thanks for the inside to your brain...I'm glad that it's just not the reader going INSANE when the book ends and we have to wait for the next one for the rest of the story :0)
....and thank you for the chance to win you's an extra bonus :0)

beejee77 at comcast dot net

Julie said...

Left Brain Dominance: 8
Right Brain Dominance: 12

Iiiiinteresting. I love these tests, it's like a mini-psychology session. Thanks for the informative link!

amanda said...

I was surprised by my quiz results. I thought I would land squarely in the middle just as yourself but instead I am more left-brained (12) than right (9.) Thanks for the give-away and fun quiz!! :)

amanda dot freeman @ fuse dot net

Sullivan McPig said...

Left Brain Dominance: (9)
Right Brain Dominance: (5)

I can't say I'm surprised as I know I'm a bit of a control freak which ties in nicely with being logical. Can't have control if things get creative ;-)

(only include me if it's meant to be international)

Pamela Palmer said...

I'm glad you guys are enjoying the quiz! I love things like long as they don't take long. The head tilt threw me, too. I guessed, but I'm going to have to pay attention to see which I really do.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused because mine was 6 left, 6 right. That only totals 12. Maybe I missed something; everyone else had higher totals. I think it's exactly what I thought, only half my brain works.
Best of luck, Pamela.

llamannerdymama said...

Hi Pamela!!

Now that confused me!! I am 9 left and 8 right. It makes me wonder what that makes me. Its a good thing I know who I am. Lol. Thank you for the laugh!

Anonymous said...

hah, fun quiz perfect thing to do at one am in te morning ;D

turns out I'm 7/7 perfectly balanced! =D

Barbara E. said...

I took the quiz and I thought it was very interesting. I wasn't surprised to learn that I'm left-brained because I consider myself more logical than creative.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

Cylver said...

I got Left 6, Right 7, so just slightly right dominant. Some of the questions are pretty subjective, like do I stick to a schedule? At work, yes, on my days off, not so much.
Anyway, good to see I use the left and right sides of my brain fairly equally!

Ren said...

I get a same value for both my left and right brain! 10/10. It's mean I'm balance? :D Funny, since I considered my self more left brained!
But that's is fun test,and I can't wait for the new vampire book, Pamela :)

Anonymous said...

Fun question! Took the quiz and got left brain 6, right brain 12. Which explains, probably, why every time I try to write I stall out after the first 20,000 words...the organizing and plotting part of my brain is definitely on the weaker side. LOL

Bonnie said...

Hi Pamela,
What a fun test. I often wondered what side of my brain was dominant. My results are left 3 and right 12. I tend to be a little unorganized and scatter brained. Of course I am a pantser.
I also had to have someone ask me a question to see which way I turn my head.


shauntih said...
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shauntih said...
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shauntih said...

I've taken tests like this before, and the results of this test were no different - Left Brain Dominance 12, Right Brain Dominance 5. Not surprising when you consider I have an Engineering degree, AAT degree, and work as a Database Admin. I am EXTREMELY organized and though I can write and speak, it is always about technical topics.

On the other hand, I LOVE to read and go through about a book a day, so I'd LOVE to win a Feral Warriors book!


Sharon said...

Ha, I am L10/R9. Pretty much down the middle . I would agree with this.

Just keep those Left/Right brain conversations on the "inside" ;)

Casey H said...

I always thought I was a bit more creative but I took the quiz and my results were 11 and 11. So I'm equal?


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I just sent my email! :)

Liz Jones said...

8 and 6 so I guess I am almost even matched. Looking forward to the next book. I know it will be a great read.

Sarah Says said...

I'm definitely more right brained, but surprised myself at how many left brain responses I actually had.

Good luck with the book release! I just started the True Blood series and have been really enjoying it. Supernatural books are a ton of fun to read.