Friday, April 24, 2015

Writers can learn from DESIGN THINKING


Stanford University’s D.School (more correctly the Hasso Plattner Institute for Design) wants to foster design thinking - a methodology for producing reliably innovative results in any field, not just product development.

This could be considered another university attempt to foster creative thinking in education and scholarship outside traditional disciplinary boundaries. But it might also be a wake up call to writers.
The design philosophy is based on seven principles, which also are good advice to writers.
  1. Show don’t tell. We've all heard that advice a hundred times.
  2. Focus in human values. We know character development is central to any good novel.
  3. Craft clarity. We know we should edit out excess adverbs and dangling phrases.
  4. Embrace experimentation. Most of us stick with what works. Maybe we should try something different more often, such as write in the first person instead of the third person, write short stories instead of novels, or pick a different type of cover.
  5. Be mindful of process. Edit, edit, edit.
  6. Bias toward action. Showing action is better than conversation many times. Or another interpretation could be: write at least a page every day on your novel instead of just talking about writing.
  7. Radical collaboration. I had trouble translating this one into advice for writers. Maybe it's find a new editor, writer's group, or publisher.
Perhaps the real message is effective communication share certain characteristics despite the format. 

I think this design thinking would be helpful for anyone contemplating revising and editing their novels for a second edition.


 How would you interpret DESIGN THINKING into advice for authors?