Writing is manipulative

People are manipulative, or at least I think most people are, including myself. It’s human nature where there exists a want and a have.

Think back to Snow White and her step-mother. She was too beautiful, her mother too jealous. When her mother couldn’t stand it anymore, she poisoned her step-daughter, feeding her a sleeping potion, disguised as the world’s most beautiful apple, shiny and red with a gentle reflection of light. She manipulated the nicest girl to give  up her position as princess.

I feel like writing’s the same way, though I’m not manipulating you to give up your throne.

When you write, you write to convince the reader of a life, a story. You want to prove your character is real, and manipulate readers into caring for your individual, no matter if he’s fiction or not. And a lot of times this means using some form of manipulation within your writing.

And before you walk away, thinking I’m crazy: Wait. I’m not talking about your normal manipulation, where you include some devious discourse to convince others to have it your way. I guess I’m talking more about persuasion since you have to convince readers your writing is real.

When you write, you have to include the reaction and feelings of your characters. Their reflection. You have to write so that when your readers read, they feel the same things your characters do because they’ve inserted themselves into the same places and lives.

It’s an odd reflection when you realize that writers are just as much psychologists as they are writers. It’s made me consider teaching as a much more helpful profession for writing since I get to witness every day how my students try to manipulate me and how I try to manipulate them.

(Which I do. I had lots of students confess they wanted to skip class on Friday, and I had to convince them to stay. A lot of them didn’t want to take the quiz we had promised to give, but unbeknownst to them, it was worth barely any points. Worth much less than the real deal. Because, of course, we couldn’t quiz before break. They weren’t that practiced with the unit.)

Other than that, I don’t have much to give. But I thought it an odd reflection that I was willing to share.


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