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Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Thinking like Rosella Cartwright

The writing and editing process for Fallen from Disgrace really took me out of my comfort zone. Not only was this my first category romance, but for once, I didn't have bazillions of characters to keep track of, leaving me free to entirely explore one, namely my protagonist, Rosella Cartwright. Getting inside the head of a murderous strategic genius was certainly an experience, and it's scary to admit just how much I started to think like her in everyday life. Since not everything made it from the outline to the final draft, I thought I'd share with the readers a couple of Rosella-esque hacks for life that wouldn't fit plotwise. Now, I won't be explaining the subtle mechanics of how to keep an alibi straight or enumerating the poisonous properties of seemingly harmless household plants (and if I didn't tell you otherwise, you might believe I actually knew something about those things!) But for anyone looking to make mind games and chessmastery a part of your everyday life, here's a few things to try at home…under close adult supervision, of course!

This first one is bizarre, but it's an effective means of telling who your friends are. When you first show up somewhere--a new class or club, for instance, or a social event--feign a foreign accent. If you're slightly harder to understand then everyone around you, it will polarize the surrounding crowd. Those who like you for you will find the accent endearing, while suck-ups and opportunists will tend not to bother with you, annoyed with the inconvenience. (Let it be noted that I do not endorse the use of this technique in the workplace or in any situation where a lot is at stake.)

Next: how to get free money.

Well, not exactly. I'm no proponent of swindling the masses, and, as such, won't give instructions on how to do it, but if you're collecting for a worthy cause and would like to speed up the donations coming your way, here's how the professionals do it. Load your jar with some cash beforehand. People are more prone to donate if they think "everybody's doing it". Again, this should not be exploited for free cash. Just because my heroine almost ended up doing it doesn't mean you should.

To wrap it up with a bit of humor, here's a true account of a mind-game that didn't work out according to plan. When I took first-year psychology, my teacher told the class about this friend of his who tried to classically condition his girlfriend. He planned out his route so that when he drove her to dinner and back, he would have to take a lot of right turns. He took each turn sharply, throwing her towards the driver's seat, and as centripetal force propelled her towards him, he gave her compliments in the hope that she would associate the positive emotions induced by compliments with physical proximity to him. By the end of the car ride, all he managed to accomplish was making her sick.

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