This is a continuation of a previous post, Paragraph Structure, C & F. This post will discuss how the history of modern hypnosis can provide useful insights into writing interesting paragraphs.
Many people are afraid or otherwise concerned with the techniques used in hypnosis, however, a careful investigation will reveal that hypnosis is really nothing more than effective forms of communication.
Long story short: the beginning of hypnosis was marked by a series of early hypnotists encouraging people to “focus” on one thing, repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly. One might note that this repeated “focusing” on one thing, repeatedly, is somewhat similar to the use of symbolism and theme in literature. Later, Milton Erickson founded a school of hypnosis that, among other things, used a “confusion” technique to achieve a hypnotic state in his resistant clients, repeatedly. (And aren’t many of those people whom we hope to persuade with our writing “resistant clients” in some way?)
Great Writing, like powerful hypnosis, doesn’t hang-out in the middle of the bell curve of human observation. Does it? On one end, perhaps Great Writing dwells in the hypnotic outliers of the extreme repetitions of theme, plot, symbolism and even prose rhythm. On the other end, Grrrreeeeat Writing employs the extremely bizarre paragraphs that confuse and confound us.
But, why and how could confusion ever be a powerful technique? The answer is
A m b i g u i t y.
A confusing paragraph is ambiguous or has the potential to mean more than one thing. This ambiguity pushes the reader to make a bigger effort and to arrive at a greater personal meaning that anyone can repeatedly DO THESE THINGS. Additionally, confusion provided in the form of ambiguity may provide the subconscious mine – excuse me – mind with the opportunity to accept multiply meanings of a single paragraph. So, if Author A writes a Straightforward Paragraph and Author B writes an Ambiguous Paragraph, Author B may be able to convey double the information in roughly the same amount of words.