|Stories - Part Four: Decisions and Problems
Here the problem is broken down into a series of Yes and No questions. A girl wants to attract a certain man. She is not sure how to go about it. Her friend helps her by asking the following type of questions:
Each question gives an answer that can then be followed up with another question until a suitable answer is arrived at.
A detective will look at a crime in this way:
The yes/no answer to each question will then lead to a similar line of inquiry.
With this method a table is drawn up that shows how elements are related to each other. A simple matrix is a phone book. There may be hundreds of Mr Smiths, but each one has a unique phone number or address. By cross-referencing the information, a process of elimination may be arrived at.
Imagine a story of a father looking for his runaway daughter among the homeless on the streets of London. He would have a list of attributes describing her. He might say "Her name is Mary, she's 5' 6", slim built, blonde hair, was wearing dark blue jeans, red jacket, speaks with welsh accent, age 16, etc." Every clue that seems positive will be assessed with other clues to see how consistent it is.
This approach is used where much of the information is available if you know where to look. The police use it for tracing lost people or criminals. Scientists use it for diagnostics. Engineers use it for checking faults in systems.
In stories, the hunt for information and piecing it together can be an exciting development. A simple case would be Cinderella, when the prince only has her lost shoe to trace her with.
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