I’ve read a lot of books where an ex-police officer writes about the police force, an ex-CIA agent writes about the CIA. I suppose this is why there are so many romance authors (and books). Most of us know something about romance – even if we are fantasizing.
I’ve written about what I know, about what I’ve done, so I understand this compulsion. But I’ve also written characters who are very different from me: a mulatto living in post Civil War times, a shape shifter, a painter, and even a robot. I’ve written about detectives too, and in a woman’s point-of-view more than once.
Writing in this way gets me to relearn the world I’m living in. If I have a character who’s a police officer, he or she has to see something different when they walk into a room than an interior designer would see. Each of them would also react differently to insults, to comments, to customers. And while I’m writing, I get to experience the world as each of these people might.
Focusing through a made-up character allows me to experience what they experience. Actors do this when they try to “get inside the head” of the movie or TV character they’re playing. As writers, we not only have to get into the head of the main character, but every character in the story or novel. Everyone has a point of view, or reaction, or way of talking or acting that is unique to each.
Getting to know a character’s uniqueness helps me to be more compassionate with others, it helps me to understand motivations better. There are always things I can learn from others and if I don’t have a friend I can talk with, I can always make up a character and live through their life. It never fails to interest me when I’m writing about a character who is different than I am. And it makes for a better story or novel, too.
Even if I am talking with someone who isn’t a writer, I recommend that they try to see through someone else’s eyes. Ask whether that person might have a reason for how they act or think, what might be important to them? It expands your knowledge and your capacity for compassion.
Terry Persun is an award winning author and a #1 Amazon bestseller. He is also a Pushcart nominee. His mainstream novel, “Wolf’s Rite”, was a Star of Washington award winner, a POW! Award winner, and a ForeWord magazine Book of the Year finalist. His science fiction novel, “Cathedral of Dreams”, was also a ForeWord magazine Book of the Year finalists. And his historical novel, “Sweet Song”, won a Silver IPPY Award for best regional fiction. His latest novel, “Doublesight”, is book one of his new fantasy series. His latest poetry collection is “And Now This”. Terry writes in many genres, including historical fiction, mainstream, literary, and science fiction/fantasy.