One thing you, as a writer, have to keep in mind is that you are not your characters. Each character may have bits and pieces of you, but not all of you, unless you’re writing your memoir. And certainly every character can’t be you.
That means you have to look outside yourself, imagine what it’s like to be that person. Imagine what it feels like when bad or good things happen to that character. Imagine what it’s like to live in a country or culture you’ve never been in. To be religious when you’re not. To eat meat when you won’t. To free fall from a plane when you can’t. To be what you aren’t.
That’s a big part of your job as a writer. To be successful as a writer, your readers have to believe you must know what it is to have lost a child to a serial killer or to force yourself to go to a job interview even though you’ve got the flu from Hades or to be a substitute teacher in front of 22 seniors who throw spitballs and refuse to listen.
You can’t say, oh, I’d never get out of bed if I lost a child… or I’d run out of the office if I threw up in the boss’s lap… or I would take control and have those teens eating out of my hand in ten minutes. You have to envision what your character would do and feel.
You have to check your emotions and write what your characters would do and feel. And if you’ve never experienced what your characters are going through, then you need to step into their skin and imagine - or talk to someone who knows what it’s like firsthand.
6 months ago