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Hypnotic Writing | 5 Effective Strategies To Put Your Reader In A Trance.

Posted By Guest Blogger 9th of September 2014 General 0 Comments

This is a guest contribution from Thai Nguyen of Wantrepreneur Journey.


You are getting sleepy…very sleepy…

That’s typically what comes to mind when you think of hypnosis—a stage show with some unfortunate soul doing the chicken-dance. However, those who practice hypnosis are quick to give a proper explanation.

Here’s the textbook definition: The induction of a state of consciousness in which a person becomes highly responsive to suggestion or direction.

We enter into hypnotic states on a daily basis; completely absorbed in an activity and losing track of time. It happens when you drive, when you watch movies, and—when you read.

Hypnosis feeds off the psychosomatic power of words. An intriguing study in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink highlights the mind-body relationship inherent in words. Subjects were lead into a room, asked to describe how they felt. Then, they were told to read a list of words: “worried,” “Florida,” “old,” “lonely,” “grey,” “sentimental,” “bingo,” “withdraw,” “forgetful,” “retired,” “wrinkle.”

Afterward, subjects not only described feeling slow and sluggish, but physically walked out of the room slower than when they entered. In psychology, it’s referred to as Priming, in hypnosis it’s synonymous with “embedding a command.”

This fascinating link between words and physiology is often exploited by the advertising and marketing industries. Words are carefully crafted to evoke powerful emotions and a state of higher suggestibility.

Exploitation occurs because something is so effective. That effectiveness can certainly be applied to the article you’re about to write.

As you write, here are five hypnotic strategies to put into place:

1. Poetic Meter

Ever wondered why Shakespeare’s work is so mesmerising? He uses iambic pentameter heavily throughout his plays and sonnets. Pentameters indicate the rhythm of spoken words; iambic being the most common in English poetry. The rhythm of poetry captures us, and can be applied to writing.

Think of the da-DUM rhythm of the heartbeat and the tic-TOCK of a clock. The unstressed syllable followed by the stressed syllable is the iambic pentameter. It’s not only our feet, but also our minds that cannot help tapping to the beat. Here’s the first line of Shakespeare’s 12th Sonnet:

When I / do COUNT / the CLOCK / that TELLS / the TIME

Let’s be clear, this isn’t a challenge to try and turn all your articles in poetic pieces, but if you are able to bring more of a rhythmic and poetic flow to your writing, you’ll certainly be more engaging.

2. Active Voice VS. Passive Voice

Research and academic writing is general done with the passive voice—hence they’re so tedious to read. The focus is always placed on object—the evidence, findings, and results, rather than the subject—the person doing the research.  Hypnotic writing is all about the subject; always use the present active voice when structuring your subject and verbs.  The “now” engages people much more than the past or future.

Notice the difference between:

The brakes were slammed on by Stacey at the red lights.


Stacey slammed on the brakes at the red lights.

3. Personal Stories

Everybody loves movies. Great stories are universal across all cultures because they allow for human empathy. When you share a personal story or experience in your articles, people respond with, “Oh yeah, I remember when that happened to me!” Or they can at least imagine what that’d be like.

A story brings you into a different setting. You’re suddenly detached from sitting on a chair and looking at your laptop to immersed in the scenario presented. Studies show that when we engage our imagination, the lines between what’s mentally constructed and what is real gets very blurry. A person who imagines practicing piano experiences similar neurological effect as one who physically does.

Use stories in your writing to activate your reader’s imagination and immerse them into hypnotic experience. Simply starting off a sentence with “Imagine…” will get the ball rolling.

4. “You.” Yes, You.

“You” makes readers feel as though your article is directly speaking to them. Although you’re writing articles in hope of having it read by millions, you certainly don’t want to sound that broard and generalised. That create a canyon of disconnect. You want to sound as though you’re having a personal one-on-one conversation with your reader.

There’s a psychological principle called the Fundamental Attribution Error—you’ll be furious and disgusted when you see someone texting and driving, but oh-so forgiving as you drive and text away. Our critical factors are on high alert when we analyse others, but take a break when we analyse ourselves.

If you write as though addressing a broad audience, you’ll have to fight through the critical factor, the more you are able to be personal, the more engaged your uncritical reader will be.

5. Explanations.

“Why is that so?”

“Because” is your key word here. Humans have curiosity hardwired into us, we’re always searching for answers and justification. Addressing problems and creating curiosity in your writing is crucial, but even more so is providing a resolution and explanation.

The classic “Xerox copy” study by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer demonstrated the power of simply giving an explanation. The set-up was a student attempting to cut in line for the copier:

In the first scenario, she asked “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” 60% allowed her to cut-in line.

The second scenario was more specific and asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” The numbers shot up to 94%.

The third scenario is the most surprising: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” The numbers stayed about the same at 93% even with a redundant and ridiculous explanation.

A well written and hypnotic lead-in will create enough momentum for the reader to come to a climactic “Why?” But as the study shows, we’re profoundly responsive to explanations, and not presenting an explanation is like switching off a movie before the big ending.

The power of words to evoke positive change motivates Thai to write. Previously a professional chef and international athlete, he’s now somewhere in the world with a backpack, MacBook, and a story to share. You can follow his work at The Utopian LifeFacebook or Twitter.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. When i write, I just be myself. Whether it’s writing general & vague, or personal, I let my readers see I am a real person and there is a real personality behind the website. And of course, other personalities may possibly be on the site in the near future. One thing I do like doing on the site now is sharing experiences about things I’ve done throughout the day, whether it’s cooking, or doing something creative. It allows me to express myself and encourage others.

  2. Thanks for the share Thai. I will refer to this for the next few articles I write until it becomes engrained in my head. I think for the most part it is there, but it is good to be reminded to write in the active voice rather than the passive voice.

  3. Hi Thai,

    Stories rock. Tell stories to pull in readers’ attention. Tell stories to hypnotize and mesmerize. I tell stories each time I post. The blog post may not center around 1 story but my short travel recounts strike a chord with my readers. Blogging from paradise sounds exotic so I may as well follow up on the feeling, build my brand and inspire my audience to block all else out, to focus on my post.

    Why do you go to the movies? To block all else out, to enjoy a story.

    My blog is like the movies. I visualize my readers stopping by, to block all else out, so they can soak up a movie-story in the form of my travels. I tie in my stories to blogging tips because that’s my niche, but more than anything I tell stories because movies, books and TV shows are wildly popular because they tell stories.

    I follow the lead of these super popular entertainment mediums, which tells stories that hypnotize their audiences.

    Keep writing, and writing, and writing, each day, and you’ll inspire your readers to block out all else, to zone in, and to follow your blogging story each time you publish.

    Thanks so much Thai, brilliant post.

    I’ll tweet in a bit.

    Signing off from Fiji.


  4. I am not usually hypnotized by books other than fiction novels. Maybe adding fiction and real life tales to increase amusement of the reader might be handy.

    • Hi Gautham,

      You should check out some of the great creative non-fiction works out there. I think you’d really enjoy them.


    • Hi Gautham,

      Have you read any creative non-fiction work yet? I bet you’d really enjoy it. It’s exactly what you’re talking about.


  5. Thanks for sharing these tips Thai. I will incorporate these useful strategies in my next article. Aas Sebastian suggested, active voice usage is very effective in my personal experience.

  6. As a reader, i feel so good when the content contains “you” words. This helps to build a personal relation between the reader and the content. Also it will be very interesting to read as it doesn’t sound like a general and formal content.

  7. Great writeup.
    I especially liked poetic rhythm in writing and using active voices.
    Rhyme in writing, it can be quite difficult.

    Using active voice is easy, that’s what MS Word, keeps on yelling.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Thanks Akshay! Yeah, rhyme is difficult, I don’t think anyone should get too carried away with it. But I do think the rhythm of an article, the way it sounds being read, makes a big difference.

  8. Hmmm…. interesting. I know a little about writing copy as I have written some to sell my digital products for one of my business’

    Stuff like using ‘you’ to make it personal, tell a story, adding scarcity and building up value and excitement


    I didn’t know about the rhythmic part or indeed the way certain words make you feel psychologically. So thanks Thai… some helpful stuff there.

  9. The simplest way to engage a reader is to make a reader feel as if he is reading his own writing. The more real life-like one can be while penning his thoughts, the more engaging the whole experience will become.

  10. Hi Thai,

    I loved everything about this post. Your intro, your transition, your points… everything was spot on. Well done.

    I love using active voice and stories in my posts! (The link attached to my name above is to a post I wrote about using anecdotes.) Stories capture your reader’s imagination. They help make whatever you’re about to discuss infinitely more relatable. They can turn even the driest of topics into a lively talking point.

    Anyway, great job, Thai. How long have you been blogging?

    – Kevin

    • Really kind of you Kevin, appreciate your comment. Absolutely agree, stories have a way of injecting life into just about anything.

      I left my unhappy life behind at the start of the year to pursue my writing dream, it’s been a tough journey, but loving it!

  11. Great piece Thai.

    I can especially relate to the “you” factor.

    For my personal development website newsletter (PickYourGoals), I receive tons of emails giving the same feedback — “Pooja, it felt you were talking to ME”!

    Was that a coincidence? Maybe when I first started out.

    But gradually, I refined my writing by keeping the reader in mind. If they are not motivated to do xyz, *how* do they feel? What’s going on in their minds? What are their pain buttons?

    How to do this?

    Here’s the thing: Usually, you will attract people who are like you. Taking an example of a blog, you’ll notice this in comments of popular blogs — the commenters have strikingly similar concepts and core beliefs to the blogger.

    I realised the reader was like me on some levels, if not all! We had *something* in common.

    This makes it simple to put yourself in their shoes (because they are similar to you) and then tell your story in such a way that it feels you’re talking about them.

    It’s a classic concept called the Hero’s Journey, and our job as writers is to let them “become” the hero of the story as they read.


    • Love that picture and concept of the Hero’s Journey. Definitely going to keep that in mind as I write my next article.

      As the saying goes, we teach what me most need to learn. I definitely agree, although I’m writing for others, often I feel as though I’m the only audience.

      Keep up the great work on your end!

    • @Pooja ! The Hero’s journey, Aaah, how warrior like, yet translatable to a common man’s daily life and ambitions. You nailed it there, as the deepest cry of a common soul is to be heard in the noise. But not every one is endowed with the ability to coin terms which are easy on the eyes and the music to the ears. We all search subconsciously to see ourselves represented through the words of someone who can speak our thoughts. Nothing more pleasing than to find a partner in our quest, someone who is feeling how we felt, and who is saying our story …… If you can be more of me, you will find me rallying behind you !

  12. Great post. It’s very informative.

    I just want to add that the title must be taken into consideration as well. for no matter how useful, informative or great the content or the whole article, it doesn’t mean a thing if the readers will not take a look at it because the title didn’t attract their attention.

  13. I love that you put in here about sharing about yourself and tell stories. Whilst no-one wants to read the ins and out of your day (at least I don’t think they do), people do really want to connect. This means getting to know the blogger behind the blog and feeling like a personal relationship is being built.

    I personally feel that I have made some awesome connections and friendships with people online that I have never met in person. This has been through the sharing of stories and actively making those connections. People also become intrigued with personal stories and it really encourages them to read.

    I recently wrote a post on knowing “the why” behind your blogging. In writing this post I had to share more about me, why I’m doing what I’m doing and what drives me. I believe that this also helped the connections with others on my site.

    Great tips you have raised….spot on!

    • “Getting to know the blogger behind the blog.”

      Absolutely agree, although this has probably been the hardest thing for me—being vulnerable and transparent. But it really is that personal connection that makes a big different.

      Great insights with the “why” behind your blogging also.

      All the best with your writing Catherine!

  14. awesome article, some great points, will definitely try some in my writing.

  15. Thank you for this wonderful composition, it was worth every minute…I am a writer and I believe learning is continuous process. I am sure your these 5 points will enhance my skills

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