How Thinking Sideways is Different Than A Whack On The Side of The Head

I’m doing this as a separate post because I figured it was going to be invisible in comments. (Where I originally answered the question.)

Here’s the question I got:

KalevTait Says:
April 13th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I don’t know how related it is, but you might want to look at ‘A whack on the side of the head’ for comparison. It’s much more about how to learn creativity than it is about thinking in a twisty way (which I suspect your course is about).

I own the Whack Pack (and book), actually. After reading the book and taking the pack out of the box and messing around with it once, I put them back and never bothered with them again. It’s not a bad course at all—but it’s designed for business users, not writers, first off, and it’s … thin. Impersonal. I liked the concept enough to buy the thing, but it didn’t fit me.

The Think Sideways course is something else entirely. It is very much about learning twisty thinking, developing a deep connection to creating unexpected events in fiction (and creating a fertile ground for serendipity in your life). It’s not random cards, but a series of specific techniques presented in an order that will allow you to build on what you’ve previously learned—everything works together

Each lesson will be in PDF format, (so you can work at your own speed), and will include:

  • one sideways-thinking technique that I use,
  • an example of how I’ve successfully used it,
  • recommendations on the sorts of creativity you’ll find it useful for,
  • and two exercises for putting it into practice—one for writing, one for life in general.
  • Finally, I’m pretty sure I’m going to include one ‘Synthesis’ lesson a month, in which you’ll start putting together some project (probably writing, but not necessarily), and you’ll use the three techniques from that month in conjunction to develop it.

Beyond that, some lessons will come with bonuses that will give you a ‘live’ (MP3 or Quicktime video) demonstration of putting a technique into action (not all of them, because some techniques simply don’t lend themselves to this).

The objective of the course will be to make sure, by the end of each lesson, that you have acquired a new skill, or have at least found new ways to put to use skills you already have.

You can get all the sneak peeks as I develop the course (and an hour’s head start on getting one of the limited seats for the first class) by signing up below for the priority notification list.

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8 responses to “How Thinking Sideways is Different Than A Whack On The Side of The Head”

  1. Kerr Avatar

    Hi Holly,
    This sounds like a wonderful course. Acquiring this new skill is just what I’m looking for. Your work is so very helpful to Writers!
    Thanks so much,

  2. Holly Avatar

    Hi, Jaye, I’ll announce the registration date about a week beforehand to everyone, (once I’ve gotten feedback on the first part of the program from my beta-testers, who will be drawn from priority-list volunteers) and then send an e-mail to priority list members about 24 hours ahead of time with the private link they’ll be able to use for the first hour. Once general registration opens, that private link will just default to the main page.

  3. Jaye M Avatar
    Jaye M

    This sounds fascinating! HOLLY, would you give us a day’s warning, please? On some days, like the weekends, I may only check my email once a day. But, if I know a day ahead that sometime during the next day the one-hour-window-of-opportunity will be up, then I’ll check more frequently. I suspect others could use a warning also.


  4. Holly Avatar

    First, I need to point out that this course is not about writing twists, which is in fact a simple and very straightforward process (I deal with it in the exercise TWIST in the Plot Clinic). Plot twists can and usually are created with absolutely linear thinking.

    If you just want to write twists, get Plot Clinic and save some money.

    Thinking Sideways is about learning to see the world sideways, and USE it sideways, to find opportunities in fiction (and life) through the intentional meshing of unrelated events and a whole stack of other techniques that will allow you to create things for yourself that are not copies of what other people have done, but are unique.

    If you’re looking for ways to escape ruts in your writing or elsewhere, or you’re looking for ways to make your own world and your own stories hang together while surprising readers, not with twists, but with every element in them, from plot to characters to action to worldbuilding, this will help.

  5. LisaM Avatar

    Hi Holly,

    This course couldn’t come at a better time!

    Until last night when I received some great ideas from the folks at FM and in my writing group, I was stuck with my plotting because I needed to work out the political backdrop of the country that my characters are living in but was having extreme difficulty doing so.

    So, as a result of that, my questions are:

    * How do I decide which ideas are plausible and will engage a reader, rather than being simply naiive? (Sometimes I worry that I see the world in far too simple a way and that it carries over into my writing!)

    * How can I take several different threads and weave them together, even though (on the surface) it looks like they have nothing at all to do with each other?

    * How can I know that the ideas I have will work and not lead to a dead-end?

    Thanks Holly.

  6. soleilnoir Avatar

    Hi Holly!
    Comming out of the lurkdom to say what a fabulous idea this is. 🙂 I can’t think of any questions I have offhand at the moment but just reading your thoughts on what it’s supposed to do is really exciting.


  7. enjonel Avatar

    My desire is to be able to develop a better flight of thoughts when it comes to plotting and character development. I feel like I get on a road and just stay there and always feel like where I am going is just a well trod road. I need to think sideways far better so I can swerve that road!

  8. WanderingAuthor Avatar

    Holly, this sounds like an incredible course. However, at the moment, I don’t as much have questions as a few suggestions: I’m sure you are good at this, but for developing a course, it can’t hurt to look at how other people do it. First suggestion: G. K. Chesterton, the Father Brown mysteries. He was a master of the unexpected twist. Second: DBA Lehane (I’d put a link to his blog, but I know some sites disapprove of that – Google DBA Lehane Short Short Fiction and you’ll get him) is another master of the twist. Sadly, many of his stories are not posted any longer, but you could try contacting him, explaining your reason, and asking to read a copy of his “Bad Fairy” story. Tell him the WA sent you. He even hosts a group, on RedBubble, called “Twisted Fiction”.

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