Greetings! Today let’s talk about the power of Asymmetry.
In Writing Open the Mind, author Andy Couturier explains, “Asymmetry is a counterpositioning of dissimilar–but not opposite–types….Since each combination of these many dissimilar parts suggests its own meaning, its own interest and power, asymmetry in visual art or in writing encourages participation by the viewer or reader in the fertile process of creation. In this sense, writing asymmetrically is generous, because it gives the reader many different ways to understand, instead of insisting on one, one that is only our own.”
Sounds good so far, right? But how does one actually write asymmetrically? Here comes the five minute part. This is the quickest writing exercise I’ve ever found, and I’ll bet that’s true for you as well. All you have to do to grasp the basic concept is to make a list. Jot down four items in a particular category (fruit, clothing, tools, etc.). The fifth item needs to be something dissimilar but not opposite to the other four. Here are three examples. Read each column straight down, taking time to absorb each word:
Shark Emerald Cadillac
Tuna Diamond Truck
Marlin Ruby Taxi
Trout Sapphire Bus
Daisy Peanut Guitar
Feel that? That little twang in your mind when you got to the last word in the list? That sudden “Hey! What?” moment is asymmetry in action. Go ahead, try it. Write two or three lists. It’s fun to take that sudden left turn that surprises both your own mind and the mind of your reader. That surprise, that fun, is what will help energize your writing. People in the science fiction and fantasy genres talk about the “sense of wonder.” Bringing some freshness to your writing by juxtaposing asymmetrical story elements can help you recapture that sense of wonder that will touch the reader’s heart and take him or her into another world, the world of your story.
- 7 Japanese aesthetic principles to change your thinking (thismomentjapan.wordpress.com)
- Design, Asymmetry And Clutches Made Of Cork (wanderingmuses.com)