How To Change Anyone's Mind
Previous parts in the Theme-Story Integration Series:
Part 4 - Rag-Tag-Band Ensemble Story
To sell Hollywood a script, you have to master Character Arc -- how much change can a human exhibit under the impact of how small a prompting, and after how short an interval of "processing" the new information.
Humans are elastic, to be sure, but have limits.
To sell science fiction, you have to depict scientifically plausible rates of change (and some of the scientists reading your science fiction are psychiatrists, sociologists, specialists in human behavior).
To sell Romance, you have to depict humanly plausible reasons for initial "attraction" (or "repulsion.") You have to show-don't-tell what she sees in him, and what he sees in her.
Here is What Does She See In Him?
The ability to "see" something in another person develops in the Teens, usually through those endless conversations parents have little patience with. Seeing your own world through the eyes of another is a major breakthrough in maturation.
That is your starting point, when you realize that you understand where someone else is making a mistake. "Don't date that guy. He's a loser." And you try to change the other person's mind, change what they see -- usually, in the teen years, you try to change the other person's opinion without changing how they see, just what they see.
The assumption is that what you see is better, or more correct, than what the other person sees.
How do you change another person?
Many marriages start with the Neptune-fantasy induced idea that you can change the other person, rescue them from themselves, get them off drugs or whatever they are addicted to, alter their behavior.
It does work sometimes, but usually not for the reasons the marriage happened in the first place. Most often such marriages end in divorce, which gives Romance writers the chance to explore the Second Time Around - where wisdom over-rides the urge to change another.
What you can do is change yourself to match the other person.
Find that a cringe-worthy idea? Yeah, so do they!
But the truth is people change. If people are too immature when they marry, and change-rates haven't settled down, they might grow toward each other, or might grow apart, Apart usually leads to divorce.
Minds can be changed -- that is, the conclusions a person reaches can be questioned and discarded. But how they reach those conclusions usually doesn't change after a certain level of maturity (reached at different ages).
The young/old couple pairing often gels nicely because the older person functions in a reliable manner, which relieves uncertainty, and stress for the younger who is still hunting for a thinking method.
We live in a world of professional (and well paid and well funded) mind-changers.
Profit seekers have weaponized psychological tricks for changing minds.
Can you get someone to love that which they currently hate?
Maybe. Some people study this process for a living.
It is based on the assumption that what you are leading them to accept is better than what they currently accept.
Here is a 2019 non-fiction book detailing the results of many years of such well funded studies.
The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone's Mind Kindle Edition by Jonah Berg
Use these techniques, combined in different ways, and you can convince most readers that your Character is a real human being (or an Alien with enough in common with humans to make an excellent mate).
Today, people are accustomed to being targeted by these mind-altering weapons, and many ordinary people use them routinely.
Using this book as a checklist for making sure your Character doesn't arc to quickly, or too easily, or too slowly, to be believed will add verisimilitude to your Romance.
Now comes the thematic question of whether the user of these techniques is pristinely ethical -- or the blackest villain.
Who should be in charge of what others believe? Teachers? Children? Authorities?
In Part 4 we looked STARS BEYOND...
...with an ensemble cast striving to survive in a world built on Genetic Modification for health and/or fun/art. The Characters didn't arc - but their world did.
There was no thematic discussion (in show don't tell) of the issue of modifying another person on a basic level. None of the conflicts involved who gets to say what you look like. It was just, smoothly, assumed that in every case, the one being changed was totally in control of the outcome of their changes.
The one (intriguing) exception was when the Aliens saved a human's life by changing the eyes to a different visual spectrum, and incidentally and conveniently for them, changed linguistic center of the brain. Other humans, without objection, underwent the linguistic center modification.
Huge opportunities for conflict and resolution - for Character Arc and many other thematic discussions were overlooked, and I think it's because this gigantic story was compressed into one slender volume.
Here is the Theme-Character series, a jumping off place for constructing a Story Arc.
Read STARS BEYOND and keep in mind the potential for applying the principles of "The Catalyst" to produce a long series of long novels which are all pure Romance. Love Conquers All, but this novel is set after all the conquering so there is very little real conflict. I think that's because they (the collaborators) started the story too late in the thematic arc.
Is it our genes that need modifying, or is it our minds?
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