Tuesday, July 23, 2013


If I asked you which author gave you chills, I bet you could rattle the name off without thinking. Mine is Pat Conroy. Second Jodi Picoult. Third Lisa Gardner. And I'm always open to some new name that can take any one of their place. I just want that feeling that snatches me out of this world and into another, riding on lyrical phrasing that steals my breath.

These are the books that you will pay full price for. . .

You know who the authors are because when you hear about their next release, you get primed, watching the news, anxiously waiting for the release date. These are the books that you will pay full price for, not wait until months later when the price drops to half thanks to some Amazon Daily Deal.

You feel the same about musicians, I bet, buying anything a particular artist creates, because you know it'll touch you in some way. Scientists say that such music gives us chills. While that sounds like a cliche, it's not. There's a physiological response to the music that "gives you chills."

Mental Floss is an online publication I read, most often prompted by my MENSA online newsletter. Call me geeky, but I look forward to this publication, because it enlightens me to new discoveries and gives me AHA moments.  Recently, Mental Floss published a piece by Lucas Reilly entitled "Why Does Music Give Us Chills?"

When your playlist strikes all the right chords, your body can go on a physiological joyride. Your heart rate increases. Your pupils dilate. Your body temperature rises. Blood redirects to your legs. Your cerebellum—mission control for body movement—becomes more active. Your brain flushes with dopamine and a tingly chill whisks down your back.

I got chills reading that article about chills! 


Readers crave, with a passion, those stories that give them chills. Think of the stories that stick with you. Then go back and dissect them, trying to understand what talent in those words resonate into physiological responses. Those stories are the best educational tool you could ever use in designing your own work. Not some how-to book. Not a conference. While those are good refreshers and reminders, they are not teaching by example. We all know that emulation, doing instead of reading someone's how-to-do lesson, sinks deeper into our minds.

Dissect the stories that give you chills. 


And a series that gives you chills is a goldmine. Studies also show that-- 
The most powerful chills may occur when you know what’s coming next. When our expectations are being met, the nucleus accumbens becomes more active. This ties back to that dopamine-inducing guessing game our brain likes to play. As a result, being familiar can enhance the thrill of the chill.

And finally, dare to break molds. Dare to be daring as you read, and as you write. Sticking to what's safe and comfortable can mute that chill-factor.

---researchers in Germany found that people who felt chills were less likely to be thrill seekers, but were more reward-driven.

Yes, I know this is about music. You  may think music is different than writing. But is it? Music takes you away. It taps emotion. It attaches to memories. It defines you in special ways.

So does remarkable writing.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I love Jodi Picoult, too.

Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s "Freeman" is a wonderful novel. I think it's a must-read for everyone.

Val said...

Good advice, but I need to work on the mold-breaking.

I have a stack of Pat Conroy. Being a teacher, I was enthralled with The Water is Wide. The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline are also favorites.

I tend to read what I write, so I get a chuckle out of Jen Lancaster, Celia Rivenbark, and Wade Rouse.

Hope Clark said...

And I don't know those, Val. Will look them up! Thanks.

Rachel said...

This is gorgeous!