How Writers can Create Takeaways for Their Books

unleash our writing subconscious
A mobile of our subconscious

Part of

The On Writing Anthology

Stage 3: Find something you love almost as much as writing and write about it.

Creating takeaways

Takeaways come from our subconscious. We can recognise a takeaway when we experience a chill, a deep level of connection. It is when we need to take a deep breath to allow a powerful inspiration to sink in. These sensations can occur when reading any quality writing. This essay discusses how writers can create takeaways or how they can elicit these feelings in our readers.

A takeaway can occur naturally. or be crafted, as discussed in later essays. Takeaways are vital for writing and are the basis for our work’s edge. The edge of a book is whatever it is that sells it.

The edge for this essay is that it explains how takeaways are different things to different people. They can be things like beautiful words for some people while being provocative ideas for others.

“The ideas? Oh, man, I got a million dreams. That’s all I do is dream. All the time.” – Duke Ellington. Dreaming all the time is a beautiful way to think of creating takeaways. But, of course, we can also think of this as getting our creative ideas, being in the zone, finding our muse, unleashing our subconscious or inner writer. Whatever we call it, writers should find a way to do it in a way that suits their personality.

Takeaways are transferring an emotional response from the writer to a reader. From a biological perspective, this transfer results from the reader having a matching change in their hormones to the writer. This is what humans can do, which artificial intelligence will never duplicate. It is the power of humanity. If these transfers of emotion didn’t happen, no one would enjoy reading fiction.

Personality Traits

Using the personality traits that the OCEANS model has defined, this essay suggests ways to customise a method for creating takeaways, to suit most writing personalities. Understanding our nature lets us share our emotional encounters with our readers through our story’s characters.

Readers share the imagined worlds of a book more intimately than a movie. As reading can trigger different and more profound reactions, they are not looking for philosophical or formulated writing. Instead, readers seek emotional responses, which will stay with them when they put down the book. They are looking for takeaways.

Emotional responses

It is a paradox that writers and readers of fiction can respond with intense emotions, even though they know the storyline is fiction. For example, appraisals of intrinsic pleasantness, familiarity, and novelty in a scene can court our aesthetic emotions. These emotions may be universal reactions such as fear, wonder or sympathy, or related to individual taste, such as feelings of the sublime, the beautiful, or the kitsch.

When we write or read about spending time with loved ones or being kind to others, we should get a warm feeling, stimulated from the release of oxytocin. Writing or reading about conflict in a story should increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Using beautiful prose to describe people or nature should reduce stress hormones and give that “thank God that’s over” feeling. The words, which cause this shared response are the story’s takeaways.

What gives us an emotional response depends on our personality. For example, people with a strong intellectual curiosity personality trait will release the thyroid hormones associated with cognitive function when they grasp a meaning. They will experience the joy of being put into the picture. Many of the concepts used here have not been applied to writing before. Putting structures, ideas and situations together in meaningful, integrated ways to create insights into these concepts has brought me joy, which I wish to share.

The seven levels of our writing personality

This essay is structured around seven levels. Different personality traits are needed for each level to create takeaways.

If we have a strong personality trait, creating takeaways will come naturally. However, a low aptitude in that trait will mean we can only access that level in a temporary state. Proficiency at all or even most levels is unknown to me. Understanding our strengths and weaknesses will help us become well-rounded writers.

Writing will exercise our ability in all these levels. This will facilitate our access to the levels we haven’t yet attained and enhance the traits that come naturally to us.

Level 1. The Base

At our base is the ego, or the promise to our readers. It engages our extroversion and emotional stability personality trait to create takeaways that expound our brand.

The hormones released in the groin play a vital role in maturing as a person, and no one can write without their humanity. So, healthy egos can release these hormones in response to social realities, norms, etiquette, and rules. This is vital for a writer. To write well is to share these responses with our readers.

Who we are influences readers. A book about refugees has more impact if the writer is a refugee. Alternatively, the takeaway could be how much the reader identifies with the writer. Finally, people who seek beauty or the truth will share takeaways with a writer whose brand is about seeking the same things.

Therefore, creating takeaways at this level is evoking empathic feelings for a writers brand. A writer can achieve this through sharing feelings of empathy with their readers.

A writer’s empathy is linked to a healthy ego and an agreeableness personality trait. Thisprevents contamination of writing, with a desire to be clever, popular, and famous. For example, presenting our ideas as superior is as satisfying as letting out a big fart in a public place. But, neither is beneficial for our brand, as readers are not seeking conceited prose any more than they wish for a bad smell.

Level 2. Flair

Our conscientiousness personality trait allows us to make complex ideas easy to understand. In addition, it motivates a desire to be skilful and flawless writers with plot structure, word choice, pace, rhythm, leadership skills, and grammar. This is our flair for writing. Takeaways at this level share the pleasure of this competence with readers with a matching release of serotonin. This hormone elicits positive or negative feelings related to knowledge or beliefs.

We should learn the rules for these writing skills, but they are too complicated for our conscious mind alone. So in addition, we should be well-read. This develops our conscientiousness personality trait, which can create takeaways from the feelings of satisfaction with well-written prose.

Alternatively, it can warn us of inept writing. For example, perception of lousy grammar in a well-read person will produce feelings of repugnance from secretions of serotonin from our intestines. This feels like a gut reaction because… well, it is.

Level 3. Beauty

Writers and readers perceiving beautiful writing will experience a reduction of stress as the level of progesterone changes.

The release of progesterone, the happy hormone, will occur to readers and writers in response to the beauty of confident prose. Thus, to create takeaways at this level, we pursue an appeal in our writing. The aesthetic sensitivity personality trait is pivotal to creating these takeaways. To enhance this trait, we should experiment with point of view, voice, style, comic relief, and emotions such as jealousy, despair, fear, hatred, or sadness. We will know we have created a takeaway when we feel the pleasure of a progesterone release.

Beautiful words and phrases can be: succinct or poetic, full of descriptive adjectives or minimal, and figurative or literal. Beautiful writing can be many contradictory things, but it is always confident as it is associated with the release of progesterone.

In summary, our aesthetic, sensitivity personality trait crates takeaways, which elicits emotions through the charm and joy of words and their associations. For example, “A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after – oh, that’s love by a different name.” – Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible.

Level 4. The heart

Our biological heart is a crucial source of emotional intelligence. “In the heart muscles you have… about 40,000 neurons capable of controlling emotions [, which is] 50 to 60 times more powerful than those managed by the brain.” – Fereshte Barazesh, Hakimeh Oloumi, Fatemeh Nasibi, Khosrow M. Kalantari. So, reason can balance hormones, which govern our emotions and behaviour, literally using our heart more than our head.,

The author’s love of their characters can be shared with their readers through the attentiveness to inner feelings personality trait. Thiscreates takeaways. Developing takeaways requires getting over the belief that the author should reason out what happens in a story. Instead, they should let their characters drive it.

Proficiency at this level allows our story to fathom the power of humanity through a flair for depicting personalities and emotions – a flair for character development. This goes hand in hand with a passion for the story. It has a profound effect on making our story nuanced as only human stories can be.

Characters are needed to communicate takeaways to readers. This makes the heart the fulcrum for the lower three extrovert levels and the higher three introvert levels of our writing personality. In this essay, the extrovert levels deal with the external world. In contrast, the introvert levels deal with the writer’s inner world. Here introversion has nothing to do with being shy at parties.

Level 5. Seeking truthfulness

Writers need the hormones released from the thyroid and parathyroid glands in the neck for the energy and cognitive function required to seek truthfulness.

“The truth will not necessarily set you free, but truthfulness will.” – Ken Wilber. ‘Truth and fiction” is one of the dichotomies that writers should avoid. Truthfulness reveals, clarifies and connects. A writer with an intellectual curiosity personality trait is motivated to seek it.  

The abstract ideas intrinsic to this level are processed internally, which means having an introvert personality type. Therefore, this is the first of the three introvertlevels.

Creating takeaways at this level uses our intellectual curiosity personality trait to structure ideas and situations in meaningful, integrated ways. Joy from insights occurs from the release of thyroid hormones associated with cognitive function for writers and readers. Therefore takeaways about truthfulness mean writers and readers share the intellectual pleasure of being put in the picture.

Truthfulness conveys an insightful knowledge of the power of humanity in all of its incredible variety. It is independent of conventional wisdom, but it is the source of the themes in our writing.

Developing our ability to seek truthfulness is standing up to our lazy selfishness and disdaining efficiency and convenience. This will discover inconvenient truths such as burning carbon is causing misery. Dividing people into “them and us is a significant cause of world violence and war. Also, seeking utopia for ourselves causes dystopia for others.

Level 6. The third eye

According to behavioural sciences, imagining involves what is external to us, while fantasising is accessing what is within ourselves. Given this distinction, the third-eye relates to our imagination, and the realm of angels relates to fantasy.

Perhaps because it would be challenging to study, there is little scientific evidence for the existence of a third eye. For example, the imagination personality trait is a catch-all for concepts such as charisma and fantasy, which science struggles to even define.

Charismatic writers have a “third eye” to create takeaways with original ideas and arrangements of words. These writers grant an understanding and resolve uncertainty as they share the thrill of change with their readers. This means they are more likely to hold unconventional beliefs. They would rather have complex, ambiguous, and subtle inspirations than banal ones. This elicits pleasure in readers. Such as with “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” ― George Orwell, 1984.

Our imagination translates our world of experiences into words. Whereas the zeitgeist is our community’s mood, tastes, classes, cultural backgrounds, accepted science, and education. Creating takeaways at this level involves imagining the future, grasping the zeitgeist, and discovering how to turn ideas into real-world success stories. It reconciles truthfulness with the zeitgeist.

Imagination itself is ubiquitous in creative writing. It is at the core of constructing story plots and creating worlds. But unfortunately, this is a state rather than a trait for most people. For example, Duke Ellington was immersed in his imagination through dreaming. For most of us, however, creating takeaways at this level uses our imagination personality trait through remembering dreams, meditation, random writing prompts or crystal balls.

Level 7. The realm of angels

Creating takeaways in the realm of angels requires understanding our deepest desires and definitions of affection, giving life to hope and beauty. We can create takeaways at this level when we mirror childhood ideals through songs, dance, poetry, prose and visual arts.

It brings colour to a grey world, which writers can share with their readers. These fantasy worlds are the realm of angels in many religions. It is the power of humanity. Humans are the only creatures that can be in the earthly realm as well as the realm of angels. At this level, we seek “the knowledge of the union existing between the mind and the whole of nature.” – Benedict Spinoza.

As Paul beautifully expressed it. “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing.” – Corinthians 13:2, NIV.  

Back with the biological sciences, our fantasies could come from hormones of the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands. These are all located in the head. For example, oxytocin fosters bonding, trust, empathy, and generosity whether we are awake or dreaming. It appears to play a role in the realm of angels. However, this is not conclusive because science studies this in terms of its therapeutic applications rather than how it affects what it is to be human.

Behavioural science combines imagination with fantasy in the imagination personality trait. These gifts from our humanity are different enough for writers to treat them as distinct levels for creating takeaways.

Unrealistic Dreaming

At this level, the fantasy worlds are internal and not created from anything external. For writers, this can be called unrealistic dreaming to differentiate it from the fantasy genre. Unrealistic dreaming is the purest expression of our humanity. Therefore, writers can access unrealistic dreams to drive their stories. Takeaways at this level are insights into human existence. They can illuminate whether scientific and societal laws seek truthfulness or are causing misery through the veneration of convenience and efficiency.

In his superb acceptance speech for the International Catalunya Prize called “Speaking as an Unrealistic Dreamer “, Murakami Haruki entreated writers not to be afraid to dream dreams. He proposed this as the way to fight misfortune created in the name of efficiency and convenience. “We must be “unrealistic dreamers” who step forward with a strong stride. A person must die one day and disappear from this earth. But humanity will remain. That humanity will continue on without end. We must first believe in the power of humanity.”

Liberalism, which challenges authority or questions traditional values, is not sufficient for creating takeaways at this level. These takeaways are apart from opinions that are without love for humanity.

However, all writers I know only seem capable of being unrealistic dreamers in a temporary state, like we were catching a snowflake on the edge of a razor blade. I guess proficiency at this level would release us from the motivation for convenience and efficiency, achieving spiritual oneness and allowing us to “fly in the liberating elation of including, revealing, clarifying, and connecting” – Kenneth Vickery, How Can Orwell’s Demons Inspire Our Love For Writing?


    By Kenneth Vickery

    There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum.

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