No, I’m not serious. Not really.
But there’s an internet game where you describe your job in a way that makes it sound bad. So a police officer might say she locks people in small rooms or scares small children with a weapon, or a teacher might say he ruins teens chances of a better life by writing bad recommendations (i.e. bad grades). Yes, I know that isn’t really the way it is– but if you look at it sideways, it can be. That’s the point of the game.
If I were playing the game, I could tell you that I brainwash people. Sure I do. I manipulate them into believing what I want them to believe. I put my own words in their heads. I make them picture what I want them to see. I make them remember something other than their own memories.
What? you say. Isn’t that illegal or something?
Well, it would be if I were doing it in real life, but I’m an author, remember? I’m only doing it to you within the covers of a book.
If I do my job right, then when you read my books, you’ll be immersed in my world. You’ll picture the scenes I want you to see. You’ll hear my characters’ words in your heads. You’ll remember my story instead of just your own life. Your real life will disappear while you live the imaginary life I created for you…
I just highjacked your brain.
*cue evil cackle*
And it’s all legal. In fact, if I’m very good at what I’ll do, you’ll beg me to do it to you again. 😉 And again, and again, and again…
Ah, now you’re getting interested. And just how do I do this, exactly, you ask?
Well, that is too complicated to discuss in just one post, but I’ll give you a few hints.
First, it’s a careful balance. If I tell you too little about a scene or a character or a world for you to picture it/them, it won’t draw you under my spell. But if I tell you too much, then you’ll get bored and remember your real life. I can’t have that, now can I? So I have to figure out just the right amount of information to spark the picture in your head without jolting you back into reality. That’s right, my world is more fun than your world. Stay a while and play…
Second, it’s about choices. What words will evoke the right emotions without being distracting? Will a precise but unusual word bring the picture to life or overshadow it? How would the character say it? How would the character NOT say it? The more natural the writing feels, the less likely you are to notice the way I’ve made you think what I want you to think.
Third, it’s about emotion. If I can make you feel for the character— or from the character— then I can really brainwash you. I might even make you temporarily forget who you are. If you feel my character’s emotions, like you are my character, then I’ve really won. You don’t even exist anymore, because you’ve become my creation.
*cue more evil cackling*
And that’s why I can describe my job as being a brainwashing, manipulative telepath. I put my thoughts directly in your head (okay, almost directly) and take over your brain. Until you put down the book.
Here, have another book. You know you want to…
Marty C. Lee