Writing a Novel: What’s Your Theory of Control

Three years ago, I started a project of writing a novel in Arabic and whenever I learn something new, I start with reading books.

My favorite book was Save the Cat by Jessica Brody. It gives you a cheat sheet to start your way into writing novels. But there is more in the book than the 15 steps or the 15 beats as she calls it. The most important item in your story should be your hero. What are his flaws and the journey he will take to learn a lesson? The hero should not end as he started the novel.

Years have passed and like many projects, we start and don’t finish, my novel writing project ended as an old document in a forgotten Dropbox folder.

January each year, people reflect and try to have a new year’s resolution. This year I came up with the 3-2-1 rule. One of my projects is a writing project. I do have several abandoned writing projects. The novel is just one of them.

A New Start

I decided to go back a learn again how to write a great novel. I subscribed to a couple of writing courses on Reedsy and listened to audiobooks on Scribd.

The latest book was The Science of storytelling by Will Storr. In the chapter – he wrote about the theory of control. Every one of us has a theory of control through which he thinks he controls his own world.

“The brain constructs its hallucinated model of the world by observing millions of instances of cause and effect then constructing its own theories and assumptions about how one thing caused the other. These micro-narratives of cause and effect – more commonly known as ‘beliefs’ – are the building blocks of our neural realm. “[1]

He gave an example about The Remains of the Day by the Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishig- uro. The story hero controls his world by the idea of “emotional restraint”. His neural model of the world is built around it. It’s his theory of control.

What’s your theory of control?

We all do have a theory of control. For example, one thinks that perfection is the prism through which one sees the world. Another thinks that his wittiness is his way of getting around. The theory of control is the product of our genes, culture, education, and how we are raised.

Our theory of control controls our decision-making process and can make us blind. When our friend sees us as irrational and questions our decisions. We do have an answer for every argument they throw at us. It feels right in our gut, but unfortunately, many times we are truly being irrational.

It’s such identity flaws that make us unique. Every one of us has his own personal theory of control and every one of us is the hero of his own novel.

What’s your theory of control?

[1] The Science of storytelling by Will Storr