they are not you

Of the 900 things that makes writing truthful characters tricky, here is one: when writing, you tend to put yourself in the character’s shoes / heels / boots. What would I do if I discovered this or experienced that? That’s one way to find a truthful human response to tragedy / joy / hot air balloons. But the problem then becomes — when a character does or says something that you wouldn’t do, it feels false. People don’t do that. That doesn’t feel real. But it’s not false. It could be perfectly truthful and human. It’s just not what you would do. And you are not everyone. You are one person attempting to create the brains and hearts of infinity others. Instead of focusing solely on your own thoughts and responses, open it up to all of them. Find a way to be everyone. Take rides in the avatars of others. Imagine what they might do, not just you.


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