Dan Brown isn’t just one of my favourite authors, he is the one fiction author whose writing made me consider writing fiction. Even though many of the traditional literary writers will give you good reason to doubt his writing prowess for reasons I’m still yet to understand, his style of fiction works perfectly for me.
The reasons are not farfetched; on one hand, Dan Brown’s books are majorly fast-paced thrillers, a genre I have come to love in my admittedly short period of reading fiction. Secondly, and most importantly, his infusion of real-life, accurate and verifiable information into his fiction is almost orgasmic for me.
Stopping mid chapter to look up the 9 rings of hell or the Fibonacci sequence as we would consider today, provides a platter of random information to keep me excited enough to waddle through the rest of the story.
If today’s title sounds all over the place, it is because all three things are entirely different. The only similarity is that two of the three topics were handed over to me by Dan Brown – one from reading his multiple award winning novel “The Da Vinci Code” and the other from listening through courses from his masterclass on writing thrillers. The last one lies at the intersection of Twitter and fruit-eaters, but we’ll get to that. Here’s the gist on these three random things:
Writing In A Moral Grey Area
If you’ve read Dan Brown’s books, then you know that his villains always operate within moral grey areas. You know, the kind of villains that want to kill half of the world’s population but only because they want to save the world? In his master class, the author advices that when creating plots or choosing characters – especially villains, that writers found moral grey areas.
The theme should be a question that is morally ambiguous. By finding something that you can argue from both sides, you can easily derive conflict. This caught my attention because I have always explored the blurry lines at the intersection of good and bad. With humans, I don’t think things are never really black or white; our actions and those of other people lie somewhere within grey areas and when we take rigid standpoints, we only do so based on our biased perspectives. We are typically not good or bad people. It’s always subjective. So, yes… by all means, create real characters.
The Fibonacci Sequence
Every now and then, within the chapters of Dan Brown’s Thriller novels are very random words, names, or concepts that you come across. When you see them, you know they are real not just because that is, afterall, the author’s modus operandi, but because of the great detail in which he writes about them.
Whether they are from old religious texts, museums in Europe or just conspiracy theories, they stand out. While reading The Da Vinci Code, the numbers: 1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21 rolled out unto the pages as famous Fibonacci Sequence and I just had to check it out.
Apparently, the Fibonacci Sequence is one of the most famous formulas in mathematics. How it works is that each number within the sequence is derived from the sum of the two numbers that precede it. Unlike other mathematical sequences, there is more to this one than addition.
The numbers have been regarded as “nature’s secret code,” as well as “nature’s universal rule – because it reflects patterns of growth spirals found in nature.” It is said to govern things like how nature was formed, to predict the behaviour of stock market indexes, is said to have been used as the dimensions of the Great Pyramid at Giza, and so much more. While there is more to it than I’m writing, the idea is that these numbers are powerful enough to reflect some naturally occurring patterns. I really just love the mystery around it.
Asides the fact that ASMR sounds like BDSM, the letters in the order they are written in meant nothing to me a few days ago – and they probably wouldn’t have if two random, seemingly irrelevant events didn’t happen in succession. The first one is that I had opened Twitter for no reason as I normally do, once every 4 – 6 hours, and seen a tweet. There was a video of an Asian lady eating fruits and crunching it loudly; somebody had replied the video saying “Chinese people trying to eat healthy but it’s too late.” I remember making nothing of the tweet and scrolling by without liking it. The second event was that sometime that evening, a close friend had randomly asked me if I had seen videos of Chinese people eating fruit. “They’re not eating healthy, it’s ASMR,” he said.
ASMR stands for Autonomous sensory meridian response. Apparently, when some people make sounds like whispers, or crackles, chewing and other random – often exaggerated sounds, some people experience a relaxing tingling sensation on the scalp that moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. Heather Feather, A popular “ASMRtist” with over half a million YouTube subscribers explains that “it feels like the amazing chills you get when someone plays with your hair or traces your back with their fingertips.”
It feels so good to these people that it is often regarded as brain massage. This is why those videos usually have huge amount of views. I don’t mean to invalidate anybody’s experience, but it does sound weird. If you know more about this, please enlighten me.
This blog post is part of the series #WhatILearntToday, a mashup of random pieces of information gotten from books, podcasts, articles, conversations etc. that I consume on a daily basis. Know more about any of these than I do? Tell me more in the comment section!