Have you ever heard the expression “Two heads are better than one”?
Source: File:Héraldique meuble Cerbère.svg, Tretinville, Wikimedia Commons
What about three heads? That’s how many heads Cerberus had. Cerberus was the dog that guarded the underground in Greek mythology, a dog you wouldn’t want to mess with. Did those three heads make him a more powerful guard dog than a dog with only one head? Hercules certainly thought so when he was given the task (thought to be impossible) of capturing Cerberus and dragging him out of the underworld and up to the land of the living.
No matter how many heads we are talking about, multiple heads make a guard dog more powerful. Multiple heads won’t just help a guard dog; they can also help a writer. Using multiple heads can make you a more powerful writer. What are we talking about, though? You can’t just grow a couple more heads. No, but you can use other people’s brains by using their ideas in your writing. If you only use one person’s ideas, you are not using all the power you could. Why not use the ideas of two or three people instead of just one?
Let’s bring this lesson back from the Greek land of monsters to our familiar world. We’ll forget about Cerberus for a while and think about getting a new puppy, hopefully a puppy with just one head. Like most puppies, this new puppy has to be housetrained. Do you know what to do to housetrain a puppy? Maybe you have some ideas, but it wouldn’t hurt to also seek out some ideas from the heads of other people who have written about this. It will be best if you can make use of ideas from two or three sources rather than just one.
Since we are imagining that you are getting a new puppy, let’s also imagine that you have been asked to write an expository paper combining ideas from several sources. In this paper, you will put together, or synthesize, the ideas from three sources so you are using all three “heads” at the same time.