I’ve been talking on and off about writing about people who are Not You, and you might wonder why. Well, for a couple of reasons. First of all, unless you’re a celebrity or someone so interesting that your autobiography would sell, you’re not going to be writing directly about yourself. You’re going to be writing about other people. Secondly, I’m writing a story that has led me down the road of thinking about these sorts of things, so there.
I was pondering the question of how to write about a character that’s decidedly Not You. I thought that the first place to start might be with You (well, me). How are you different than other people in the world?
Here’s some things to think about:
- What’s your race/ethnicity/nationality? (everyone has one)
- What gender are you?
- Old/young? What are some things different about your generation compared to your parents’ generation, or your children’s generation (if you have kids)?
- Fat/thin? Good looking/not so? Visible scars? How do these things make you different?
- Do you have a disability (physical/mental/emotional)?
- Single/partnered? Children? Do you have care of relatives that are disabled?
- Old emotional wounds (childhood, etc.). Maybe things only you know about.
The idea is to think of things that make you different, and how you feel when they’re pointed out, either verbally or other ways.
Good. Think about those feelings. Write them down.
I hope at this point little lightbulbs are going off, because some of you can hide your ‘Otherness’. The people who, for whatever reason, can’t hide the fact that they’re ‘different’ (minority ethnicity, wheelchair-bound, etc.) feel these things all the time, to varying degrees.
Being aware of how your character differs from others and giving the character the kind of feelings and thoughts you have when the inevitable ‘different’ situation comes up (the only one in a group, etc.) will make your character that much more realistic.
Here’s an exercise: Write about a character that’s Not You in a situation where it’s obvious they’re different. You can post it here or not as you like. Have fun. 🙂