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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Writing from Inside Someone Else's Head

The first consciousness we understand is our own. This starts early; watch any two year old assert herself and demand to get her way. As we get older, we begin to understand that others see the world differently, have different needs and hold other opinions. Later still, we learn to understand others from inside their own head.

As a writer you need to create distinctive characters. You will need the empathy and insight to see the world through other people's eyes. You need to identify with a saint at one moment and a sinner the next. In today's writing session, you may need to see the world through the eyes of a young girl. Tomorrow's session may require you to get inside the head of con artist.

The more skilled you become as a writer, the easier it will be to change your perspective and see a given situation from different points of view. Really good writers can empathize with characters they do not like. One of the best ways to understand a character is to develop a full life for that person.

Write a biographical sketch for your character. Briefly describe her childhood, first love, educational background, accomplishments, disappointments and failures. Then, write her obituary. Now you are prepared to see the world from her point of view and with real understanding, even if you wouldn't want to invite her to dinner in your home.

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