Article by L. Michael Hall,
Writing persuasively involves lots of things, not the least of which is writing to set a frame in the very structure of our words. After all, our words only take on specific meanings in a given context and frames set such contexts. This reveals the multiple tasks to which we can put words. We can use words for description and narrative, as well as to establish contexts, set the mood, invent the world, etc. The frames that we subtly, covertly, and implicitly set via our words initiate the reader into whatever world we establish. As the meaning makers of linguistic worlds, we create various matrices and then invite the reader to come join our game.
We all know this. When we open up a biography, novel, detective story, new report, etc., we know that at least to some extent, the world we enter into is contrived and invented by the writer. But, what the hell. If we’re in the mood for adventure, mystery, drama, romance, scientific description, instruction for self-improvement, etc., then we play right along.
We even know this when we pick up a piece of copy that advertises something. We know it’s a sales pitch. If we’re interested in the product or service, we scrutinize it. We use our skepticism to test it, demand that it stand up and give account of itself in ways that fit our criteria for legitimate, real, trustworthy, etc. If we’re writing about “the facts” and trying to present the features, then we dive right into this arena and marshal the details. We let them march across the screen of the reader’s consciousness and line up for inspection.
That’s one kind of writing for persuasion. But it’s not the only kind.
There’s also the writing that’s much more covert and much less explicit. There’s the writing that doesn’t want the drill sergeant to give the product or service the once over. Sometimes we want to write more seductively, to entice, and to allure. Sometimes we want to write in a more playful way that uses subtlety.
Why? Because I don’t know how much you’d prefer to get a person first into state, into a frame of mind of being truly open and curious, even motivated and passionate, before you turned the reader’s attention to something like, for instance, when I do Frame Games trainings, but I only know that if you would prefer the reader to already be feeling a sense of interest and anticipation, and maybe going so far as to fully trust you as the writer, but I could imagine that they might be a bit useful, what do you think?
Ah, the language of directionalizing a reader’s brain. It can happen so quickly and so much outside of conscious awareness about what we’re actually doing at a higher level, the level of structure. (Did you catch what I just did?) Oh yes, I suppose I should have mentioned about the different levels of awareness.
There’s the content level, the details that describe the What. Most of us, most of the world, are suckers for content. Toss out a bit of juicy content, and people can get absolutely lost in it.
To rise above the content level and to notice the form, the structure, the ongoing dynamic structure of what we’ve said, moves us to the how and even to the why. To do that a person has to step back and gain some perspective. To do that one has to refuse to bite down on the content bait. To do that one has to know how to operate from a higher perspective than mere content. And that’s typically, not easy. It only comes through practice and training.
Yet that’s where the power is. And accordingly, that’s why great writers care about and know how to pose, structure, format, and frame. They not only write content, they also write in a way that sets a frame- a frame that engages the writer’s attention and then focuses it in a certain way that the reader becomes entranced in the story.
Why, that’s the structure of hypnosis! The reader has developed a strong and intense inward focus so that the world goes away, and all he or she now sees, hears, and feels is the narrative world that the writing has beckoned them into.
Amazing. And there is a structure to it all.
Hum, how shall I frame you? Let me count the ways.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D., is a researcher and modeler, international trainer and entrepreneur (P.O. Box 9231; Grand Jct. CO. 81501; 970 523-7877). Michael developer of the Meta-States Model, co-founded Neuro-Semantics® [ www.neurosemantics.com / www.learninstitute.com ], and is currently involved in several modeling projects: wealth building, selling/persuasion excellence, accelerated learning, etc. He has recently developed Frame Games: Persuasion Elegance. (2000).