My spirit and your voice
In one combined
The phantom of the opera is there
Inside your mind
- The Phantom
Who would have thought that the failed novel turned world-wide box office smash hit can teach us anything about writing? Inside this gothic, romantic-tragedy however is a profound technique that every writer must employ in order to be successful – psychological manipulation.
Sounds morally wrong doesn’t it? When used ethically however the power that results from it is actually a benefit to everyone involved. Read on to see how you too can wield such power.
Set in a 19th century Paris Opera House the story focuses on the Phantom, an apparent musical genius. However the man is tortured by his disfigured face and so spends his days living in the deepest bowels of the Opera House, manipulating people from the shadows to do his bidding and so control events.
In fact the entire story revolves around his obsession and manipulation of Christine, a young soprano. The Phantom convinces Christine that he is the “angel of music” a heavenly spirit sent by her dead father to teach her and guide her musically. And therein lies the first lesson.
Lesson 1: Identify What Your Reader Needs
My power over you
Grows stronger yet
The Phantom was shrewd enough to see that Christine was still mourning the loss of her father, a very influential person in her life. He realised she needed a “father figure”, a mentor and a teacher and quickly positioned himself as such in her eyes. He effectively got into her mind.
Emotional pain and the need to be rid of it is one of the primary motivators for buying (the other being a gain in pleasure). Identify the emotional pain your readers are suffering and all of a sudden you will find yourself inside their minds.
Lesson 2: Make Your Readers Sing Your Song
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night.
Although she spoke of the “angel of music” with trepidation and sometimes fear, Christine correctly attributed her rocketing success to his guidance. Once inside the mind of your readers you too can empower them to success and they will sing your song to anyone who will listen.
Unlike the phantom however this will invariably work to your favour and people will track down this great writer rather than Track Down This Murderer!
Lesson 3: Allow The Relationship to Flourish
As it turned out the Phantom fell in love with Christine and it can be said that he needed her as much as she needed him. This symbiotic relationship where both parties depend on each other for survival also develops between a writer and their readers.
Do what it takes to nurture and grow these relationships. Reply to your commentors, interact and connect with them not just on your blog but on theirs.
The Most Important Lesson Of All: Don’t Follow The Phantom
That’s right, I’ve been telling you to get into the mind of your readers like the protagonist of this story, am I now refuting that advice? Not exactly. Just don’t approach this with the same self-centered sense of manipulation he used.
You’re not trying to achieve a slave mentality but a deeper, more trusted connection that all parties can benefit from. Ignore this and you too will have to Learn To Be Lonely.
Give some thought to your readers with your next post. What problems are causing them the greatest emotional pain? How can you solve that problem? Use some psychology and get inside their minds.
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