Mind Control

Whether you are writing realism or speculative fiction of some sort, readers have to believe in the world you create. Your characters are their window into that world. We all want to see a bit of ourselves in others. It is your job to shape a character readers can relate to.

Mind reading is not so different from reading books. When I read a mind and see nothing human in it, nothing I can relate to, that scares me. Ultron was like that, when he used Dr. Cho’s cradle. When I read a book and cannot put myself in the heads of the characters because there is nothing I can relate to, I probably will not finish that book.

So how do you read minds if you have not undergone experiments with a magical scepter?

My powers need to be exercised so that I can learn best how to control them. For people who are not “Enhanced,” I would say you should exercise empathy. There is a difference between saying, “I understand,” and feeling the same thing as someone else. Empathy is not just listening, it is a deliberate attempt to feel what someone else feels.

The best way to exercise your empathy is to talk to people. Talk, and listen. When a loved one tells you something sad, do not immediately say “it will get better.” Take a moment to sit with them in that sadness. Only by feeling what they feel can you understand and truly comfort them.

Likewise, only by understanding emotions well enough to empathize can you write believable, compelling characters.

It is a unique struggle for some people. Take the Vision, for example. Jarvis did not have access to human emotions, or the capacity for empathy. He had only programming. When the Vision was created, he gained *access* to human emotion, but not exactly the capacity for it. It is something we all have to learn, I think. He was young enough to comprehend the passions and fears that drive humans, but not quite experienced enough to feel them yet.

Now, he does his best to talk to us. He studies people, how they work and why they do what they do. As any good writer should also do, if they wish to write characters readers will love.

Thankfully, we are not all synthetic humans like Vision. We sometimes have to be reminded to step out of our own problems long enough to feel someone else’s, but we are very capable of doing so.

Your assignment is to practice this. Make empathy an intentional act. Gain control over when and how you use it. You understand the building blocks of a person when you comprehend their emotions. What drives your characters? Do they feel pain, or fear? Make them as human and fallible as the rest of us.


Eventually you will have control over minds in your own way, making readers feel what you want them to feel. It is a big responsibility, having that kind of power. Thankfully, writers can’t abuse the power of empathy the same way that I can abuse my magic. Don’t hold yourself back.
~Scarlet Witch

1 comment:

  1. This is a really neat point! Empathy is very important for writing. :)

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