Maybe it’s the heat (multiple days of 90+ temperatures), maybe it’s the nasty cold I caught last week—but I woke up thinking about driving in the snow. When blinding snow surrounds the car, limiting vision, I am forced to be in the present moment. There’s no other option. No longer able to see for miles, I must drive the mile I am in.
That’s not my normal. I like the big picture so much that I often miss details. (You’ve no doubt found many of my typographical errors in the blog!) I’ve read that this is how we are built—some people naturally think about the whole while others connect with the details. I’ve been wondering how this affects the way we write. Do the big picture people (like me) ever understand what it is like to be in the shoes of their characters, without the benefit of knowing how it will all work out in the end?
Whether you favor the big picture or the details, staying in the moment, in the head of a single character, can be a challenge. You DO know how it turns out. You know what the other characters are feeling and planning. And you know what your character will do next.
For this writing exercise—forget all that. Take a scene that you’ve been having difficulty with. Write it from the point of view of one character. Your character can think, feel, and act based on only what they know (not what you know). Write what happens. Or what your character thinks or feels about what is happening.
When you’re done, reflect on what this writing exercise was like for you. Did you get a deeper sense of what the character was going through? Did any feelings, thoughts, or actions show up that surprised you? How did going to the middle place help you understand your characters and write the scene? I’d love to hear your comments!