This week I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy and perspective, and it put me in mind of an exercise we used to do in my acting class in college. For this exercise, we would have to put ourselves in the mind of someone we obviously were not — a five-year-old, someone of another gender, someone from a foreign locale, a puppy — and improv a scene using this new perspective.
As writers, we are called on to do this all the time. Unless we are writing a story about the last person on Earth, chances are we are going to have to reveal the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of a wide range of characters — and woe betide the novice who finds all her characters starting to sound the same.
Exercise 17: Perspective. Choose a character — either one from your writing, or someone brand new — who is as far-removed from your typical genre/gender/experience as possible. Write a short excerpt from his or her point of view, doing your best to relate the story first, underlain by this new perspective.