Many years ago I was instrumental in “bringing in” the initial investment capital for a small animation upstart.  I had written the business plan and Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) describing the investment opportunity. As part of the overall planning, I developed certain phrases to explain―in very simple terms―the foundational psychology that was underpinning the lessons that were to be taught via the animation that was to be created.

One such phrase that I developed included [the] “Symbolic Learning Process” or SLP, which had roots in Neuro-Linguistic Programming NLP, which itself had roots in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, developed by Milton Hyland Erickson.

Think of Egyptian hieroglyphsan ancient writing system consisting of over 1,000 characters. Now think of characters. You may think of the individual letters in the english alphabet—there are 26 of them.

But there is another definition to character, is there not? When you write a novel or short story, there is nothing without a protagonist and an antagonist, correct? These two elements create friction and conflict within a story, that if written well, drives the reader forward to the next page and the next, and then the next, until resolution and conclusion is rendered.

If you were to describe the character that you have developed, how would you do that using only three sentences at the most. I picked three as an arbitrary number (not really, like Nikola Tesla I am obsessed with the numbers 3, 6, and 9). Could you describe your character in only a few sentences (the meaning of “few” is now truly arbitrary) or do you need an entire novel so you could accurately share with the world every single attribute in such a specific way so that your character is always fully represented.

Ambiguity is your friend, but more about that later.

I live in Northern Idaho. Before residing where I am now currently located, I spent a full year in Sun Valley, Idaho, a place made famous by Pulitzer and Nobel prize winning author  Ernest Hemingway. In a movie, available on Netflix, titled Papa Hemingway in Cuba, there is a scene that provides some backstory to these famous six words:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

JD Hancock from Austin, TX, United States. Cropped and edited by Daniel Case prior to upload – 1970 Baby Shoes and Blanket.

Whether these six words can be attributed directly back to Hemingway is up for debate. What is important is that these six words are actually a six-word novel and the extent of information and meaning conjured up inside a reader’s mind, is at the very least, the size of a tome.

This May 16, 1910 article from The Spokane Press recounts an earlier advertisement which struck the author as particularly tragic.

This six word novel supplants and magnifies all the words written in the above referenced article from The Spokane Press, and these six words did it in a single sentence.

But how?

Throughout this first part of Modality Focused Writing, I have foreshadowed many topic areas to be addressed in future writings. As an additional tease, consider what the meaning might be behind the phrases “Frames of Reference” and “Neurological Triggers”.

In part II of this article I will explore the five modalities of meaning.

Until the next read,