Three Ways to Control Your Reader’s Mind
Deborah Owen

Ms. Deb, as her students affectionately call her, is the CEO & Founder of Creative Writing Institute, and the former A-1 Writing Academy (now defunct).

"The A-1 Academy was a pilot program built within the virtual walls of a large writer's group," said Deborah. "In the first year we drew 600 students, but I wanted to reach the public. In another year Creative Writing Institute was created. It is a high-quality, low cost writing school with full-time mentors and small classes. Even distressed students and seniors can afford our prices."

Creative Writing Institute now partners with to bring the best and most up-to-date information available to creative writers everywhere. Check out the new school by Clicking Here.

By Deborah Owen
Published on December 5, 2008

Do you have the reader in the palm of your hand? If so, you can control how fast he reads, and even how fast his heart beats. Learn how within.

Have you felt your heart pound with fear during horror movies? Were you skittish when the slasher was about to knife a woman in the shower? That’s because the writer was controlling you. You can control your readers like that, too. You can even control their heartbeat and the speed at which they read.

You may ask why you would want to control their reading speed. The answer is that fast scenes pull the reader into the action; unending fast scenes tire them. The reader needs the slow scenes to rest mentally and emotionally. During the slow scenes they will reassess the anxiety of the previous scene, and you want them to do that.

Let’s look at some samples of how you can control the reader’s speed: 

"We bounced up the stairs two at a time, slipped into my room unnoticed, and closed the door without making a sound.”

  • That sentence is fast because it has alliteration. (Alliteration is the succeeding sound of the same letter, or sounds that appear to be the same letter.)  Note the words "bounced", "stairs", "slipped", "unnoticed", "closed" and "sound". All have the S sound. Also notice the T alliteration in "stairs", "two", "at", "time", "into", and "unnoticed". This is double alliteration, and it increases the speed even more.

  • Another way to speed up a scene is with action verbs, such as: "The roller coaster zipped and whirled at lightening speed,” or “The skater swished by in a rush.”

  • Slow the scenes with settings, scenery, or by using words with Ws and Ls, like this:

A little lady watched from the crowd, and glanced momentarily at her watch.”

Note the four Ls in the last sentence and the three Ws. That’s double alliteration and it should make the sentence flow fast, right? Not in this case. The lulling sounds of the Ws and Ls overpower the alliteration to make it a slow sentence.

Let’s look at this sentence again, and apply what we know at this point:

"The roller coaster zipped and whirled at lightening speed.”

It’s fast because it has the S sound of alliteration. Right? No. It’s slow because it has one W and four Ls? No. It’s fast. Why?  Just as the Ws and Ls can overpower alliteration, action words overpower Ws and Ls. When you write your own blogs, articles or stories, these are the skills you must learn.


  • Alliteration speeds up a sentence.

  • Normally, the use of Ws and Ls will slow down the reading, especially when the two letters are used together

  • The slowing technique of Ws and Ls will override the speed of alliteration and slow the sentence if the two techniques are used together

  • When action words are present in a sentence that uses Ws and Ls, the action words will prevail.


Pick up a book and analyze some sentences for structure and speed.

For your own practice: Write a 500-word story and practice using sentences that will speed the reader up and slow him down. See below for more writer’s information.