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Manipulating the reader, audience

A helpful book in writing is actually Ivana Chubbuck’s  The Power of the Actor.   It isn’t about writing per se, but about acting.  But the lessons are the same.

Chubbuck once told Catharine Keener, “Once you know it is okay to manipulate in your work, this is when you will be recognized for your work.”

Most children and most adults who grew up in the hippy, self-help explosion in  the 60’s and 1970’s, learned that manipulation was a dirty word.  Yet if we write a thriller or romance novel we obviously want to manipulate the reader.

Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky knew how to make a scene more frightening, more conflicted and mysterious.  They were writing to achieve an effect.

One teacher said, “Don’t write what you know, write what you feel.”

These are the opposite of what I learned about writing and living.  But is a work gripping if the author doesn’t intentionally create conflict and writes to produce certain feelings in the reader?

Yet I think I would be more successful if I allowed myself to manipulate the reader.  When I wrote advertising copy and public relations materials, I did want to manipulate the reader.  But that was business writing and I did try always to tell the truth.

So it is possible to manipulate the reader and tell the truth.

I don’t where to go next.  I am going to meditate on this, release and let go of the feeling of not wanting to manipulate anyone.  I grew up with an alcoholic mother that did nothing but manipulate everyone around her.  And my recovery depended on telling the truth.

But my intuition says I need to get past this block to be successful.  More later.

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