Do You Get Me? Writing from another person’s perspective.

“The characters were so believable!”

This is a compliment any fiction writer would love to hear.

To craft memorable stories, the writer needs to enter the mind and heart of her characters and then bring them to life on the page.

How do you do this?

You can find excellent guide books on this fascinating topic. For starters, I’l offer key traits a writer should cultivate when trying to get into someone else’s head.

Curiosity

Intuition

Imagination

Open-mindedness

Listening skills

Empathy

Sensitivity

Notice how this list applies to our real life relationships? 

Imagine how such skills and practice could shape our present day divisions.

While one can never truly know another, the quest to do so—and to be seen ourselves—drives us.

Sometimes to love and madness. 

Try putting yourself in my shoes, for a change.

You just don’t understand.

Are you crazy?

She can read my mind.

He really gets me.

It’s easier to write characters with a similar perspective, background, and age as yourself. But to stick with that limits the scope of your creative work. Plus, it’s boring!

Writers who wrote outside their own boundaries brought us great literature from Henry James to Agatha Christie. Men transporting themselves into a woman’s head and vice versa.

Nabokov wrote Lolita in the voice and mind of a murderous pedophile.

The best-selling novel, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, (Mark Haddon) is narrated by an autistic teen.

Let’s consider age.

I am all the ages I have ever been. ~ Anne Lamott

In Room, Emma Donoghue narrates the book through the eyes of a 5 year old boy being held captive in a small room along with his mother.

J.D. Salinger’s inner 17-year-old, Holden Caulfield, catapulted Catcher in the Rye to classic fame. 

My middle-school students were always shocked to learn that cult fav, The Outsiders, narrated by a 16 year old boy, was penned by a teen-aged girl.

Beloved children’s author, Judy Blume, now age 83, attributed the success of her children’s books to her ability to access her inner child. “I’m still like an 11 or 12 year old inside,” she told an interviewer.

How about writing in an age you have yet to be ?

Marilynne Robinson’s, Pulitzer-Prize winning Gilead is a diary from a 76 year old preacher to his young son.

I’ve written stories from the perspective of a confused middle-aged man, a 25 year old exotic dancer, and a 9 year old fire starter. My current project features an almost 12 year old roller coaster enthusiast. To capture her essence, I read childhood diaries, studied old photos, and visualized my 6th grade self.

But it’s the spirit of a 15 year old girl that comes most naturally. Perhaps because 15 was a pivotal year in my life. I also work with teenagers, so I get to know them up close. 

My recently published short story, “My Father’s Messiah”, is about a 15 year old orthodox Jewish girl who worries her widowed father may be losing his mind.

I am honored to be awarded the First Prize in the Katherine Paterson Award for Young Adult Literature. Thank you to Hunger Mountain Journal and Vermont College of the Fine Arts.

It begins like this:


Every school morning, my father wakes me the same way: he yanks open my blinds, slaps his hands together, and says, “Boker tov, beautiful daughter. Time to rise and serve your Creator.” 

Once upon a time, I didn’t need wake-up calls. I bounced out of bed as if each day delivered a surprise package. When I was five, I might have found my father’s routine cute, but now my fifteen-year-old brain barely registers Abba’s words. Instead, I hold onto my last dream before it morphs to reality.  

“And who knows?” my father booms. “Today might be the day the Messiah comes!”

He says this says every morning. No joke. 


You can read the story here

What is your inner age?

12 responses

    • Thank you! In case you didn’t know, Katherine Paterson won the Newbery Award and wrote such gems as The Bridge to Terabithia and Great Gilly Hopkins. Wishing you continued success in your writing. So exciting to hear about your new book. I always liked nun stories.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tracy. Another interesting things about that age range is that so much of one’s experiences are firsts which leaves a strong emotional footprint. Do you have an inner age? By the way, I loved your Marcel photo. Gorgeous kitty.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m a middle-grade writer. I seem to be stuck in the 10-12 year-old range. Big memories from those years. I totally agree that 15 is a time of many firsts. (Thank you for the Marcel love. He is a fine specimen.). 🙂

        Like

  1. Congratulations on your publication and winning First Prize! Yay! I look forward to reading your short story soon. I’ve been focusing on my mental health and family stuff lately, so I’ve not been able to concentrate on much more than one task at a time. Your recent post brought joy to my heart! PS: My inner age fluctuates, but I feel like I’m anywhere between 7 and 15, depending. It’s a pretty wide range, but I’m weird that way, LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So nice to hear from you! I think you’ll like the story. One task at a time isn’t a bad thing. I ought to try that one of these days! Thank you for visiting and the congrats. I’ve been thinking about you, and Chicago was wonderful…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t know if it was too late for you now, but I did receive your text. I wanted to reply, but then I didn’t want to wake you or interrupt you if I replied at the wrong time, LOL. I’m so glad Chicago was a good experience for you – yet again! I remember you visiting Chicago before. I miss Chicago! Thanks so much for thinking of me. I’ve been thinking of you, too! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s