Exercises

May writing challenge: taking on another character’s point of view.

My May challenge comes to you indirectly from my Year 9 English teacher, who was so unbelievably voluptuous and good-looking that all the boys in our class swayed when they saw her; I thought she was wonderful.

My teacher set a number of assignments that have stuck with me over the years, including this one: after reading a short story in class, we were asked to rewrite the story from a minor character’s perspective.

The ability to envisage a set of events or issues from a foreign perspective is a skill that has proven invaluable to me over the years, in life and story-writing. Today, as I develop my main characters, I find myself considering the motivations and behaviours of others around them–and, in considering the views of others, I see my main characters with new eyes.

So this month’s challenge is a simple exercise but one requiring lateral thought, because it’s a traverse into someone else’s head.

Monthly Writing Challenge #3–-May 2015: rewriting a familiar story from another character’s perspective.

Choose one of your short stories. Take a minor or incidental character from the story and rewrite your story from their perspective. The character you choose could be a sibling, a lover, a waitress, a stray dog–anyone, so long as they are not already a central character in the story.

Ask yourself questions like: What’s their backstory? What do they look/smell like? How do they move? What do they enjoy? What/who do they love and hate? How do they interact (or not) with the events in your original story?

If you’re having problems using one of your own stories, use someone else’s story–or a movie, or TV show–that you know and love. Consider a particular event/episode and reflect that from a minor character’s perspective.

This isn’t a time-limited exercise; use what you can spare. You might be surprised at how much the process stimulates your creative flow.

Have fun, and see you next week,

Hannah.

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