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NLP in your Creative Writing


NLP stands for Nuero-Linguistic programming. According to the website www.nlp-secrets.com:

'NLP is a school of psychological techniques that effectively communicates with the listener's unconscious or unconscious mind. In modern-day terms, brain-hax. The end result is that you can communicate/argue/negotiate/threaten/persuade people (or yourself) much more effectively.'

Before you get too excited, it is worth pointing out that NLP is based on a dated idea of how the brain works, and has been widely condemned as pseudo-science.

But that doesn't mean the techniques can't be useful to us as writers.

Because as we know: every word counts and why not use all the techniques at our disposal to make our work resonant?


Derren Brown is a proponent of NLP and in one trick, he asks someone to think of an animal. To the audience’s surprise, Brown guesses that the man is thinking of a ‘llama’.

Later he reveals that there were pictures of llamas in the lobby of the theatre, which influenced the audience without them realising it.

Whether or not the man was a stooge we'll never know. But let's suppose he wasn't, let's suppose that all the words we use have a subconscious, as well as a conscious meaning for the reader.

As writers we know this to be true, even if it can't be backed by science.

Thus: A similar ‘mind trick’ can be done on your reader. Without explicitly stating your theme or mood, you can choose words which nudge the reader into understanding.

For example, if your theme is depression, you could make your protagonist sit at a low table, or she may call ‘I’m down here’ rather than, ‘I’m in the kitchen.’

Another example: instead of writing: ‘He was cheerful’, you could write a sentence which contains synonyms for happiness. ‘As he walked into the garden, the pinks tickled his ankles, and gladioli danced in the breeze.'

Now it's your turn: choose a mood and try to find as many synonyms for it as possible and pepper your piece with it. Good luck!


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