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Monday, April 19, 2010

Manipulators

I was reading an industry blog the other day - essentially touting the release of a book, but doing it in a clever, roundabout kind of way.  On the surface, we are led to believe some other topic inspired the post, when in reality it was probably just a clever excuse to bring up the release.

I'm okay with that, I completely understand why they do it and someday when it's my turn, you better bet I'll be looking for every possible way to get the message out there. It's just part of the game. 

But it got me thinking. 

(In case you haven't noticed, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking.)

We writers are masters of manipulation, aren't we?  Maybe manipulation is a bit harsh, but bear with me for a minute.  I think it's a good thing.  The whole point of writing is to elicit certain responses from the reader, correct?  We want them to hate / fear the villains and love the hero / heroine.  We want them to follow the red herrings and celebrate the victories. 

We want to control their experience. We needto control their experience.

In order to successfully induce the necessary emotions, we must manipulate the reader - hopefully subtly enough they won't realize it. 

For the record, I'm not implying that we are manipulative in real life! Oh, no! Just with the written word. 

Do you feel like you are able to successfully manipulate your readers? Have you ever used your powers of persuasion for "evil" purposes? And if you disagree with me, let me have it in the comments!

7 comments:

Creepy Query Girl said...

I admit that when I write, I give my controling/manipulative side a decent workout. But its mostly just the process of controling my characters and what befalls them. I can make people fall in love, die, go to war...THE POWER!!!*evil laugh. But I never think about the reader when I write. If they like the story, all the better, but I write for me first.

Saumya said...

This is so true. We do have these slivers of manipulation in us, because we have to be aware of what the reader should feel when looking at our work. There's this crazy mix of manipulation and psychology! I agree with the above post.

Cute blog!!

MissV said...

CQG, I should probably follow your example and write for myself, I just feel the need to filter a lot of my stuff so as those who have inspired me (in less-than-flattering ways) are not offended. I gotta stop worrying about that. I do love the control though!

Saumya, Thanks for stopping by! I agree about the psychology aspects, too. Why didn't I think to add that?

Tahereh said...

i can totally see what you mean -- i've read posts like that, too. but i think for the most part, it might even be an apologetic way for authors to plug their book without throwing it in their readers' faces? i can imagine wanting to plug my book if/when it got published, but i'd hate to make it seem like i was simply using my readers for their purchasing power. it's hard to find a happy medium, i think.

in any case, it doesn't detract from the fact that writers HAVE to be good at manipulation. that's what fiction is all about, isn't it? :D we have to manipulate emotion and experience in such a way that it seems real and ultimately, believable. it's an incredible skill, as long as it's used the right way.

great post, V! thanks for your thoughts :D

MissV said...

Tahereh, I totally agree with you. You can only have so many in-your-face announcements about the impending release. After that, you've gotta weave it in a little more subtly or people are gonna start to roll their eyes.

I suspect the general public doesn't recognize the behind-the-scenes manipulation at work. But since "it takes one to know one", we writers notice it right away.

Thanks for stopping by...here's wishing a fab week for everyone!

Lydia Kang said...

Hmm, I guess in fiction I'm trying very hard to be manipulative! But on a blog, not really!
Great post, got me thinking!

MissV said...

Hi, Lydia! Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation! I'm such a kid, I get so excited when I see a new face/name over here! So much fun to make new friends!