Featured Art: Sketch of Church Tower and Roof Top by Arnold William Brunner
We often say that a story, a movie, a song, or even a commercial about sad dogs is “emotionally manipulative.” We use this phrase not only to discount a particular piece, but to condemn it. What, though, constitutes literary emotional manipulation? Is there such a thing as a benign manipulation, a justifiable heart- tugging? And what specific moves can we identify that make the difference between effective and ineffective narrative manipulation, between a moving poem and a mawkish one?
We asked five writers—Rebecca McClanahan, Debra Marquart, A-J Aronstein, C.L. Dallat, and Matthew VanWinkle—to respond to those questions.