September 24, 2012

Seeing Through Others' Eyes

Every day has 24 hours. Each hour has 60 minutes. Yet, some days just fly by. Today was one of those. It just shows you perception can be more real than facts. To me, there's no way today had the same number of hours as a normal day.

So I'm squeezing in a post at 9pm, and tackling another BlogHer "Eye" prompt: Do you think you're good at seeing the world through another person's eyes?

Interesting. My gut reaction... of course I can do that. I'm a writer. I create characters.

But wait. Do my characters see through my eyes? Hmmmm.

Then I thought about how often my husband gets aggravated when I try to figure out other people's motives, reasoning, and perspective.

For all my trying, I really do believe we have bias no matter how hard we try not to. We are affected by our birth order, birth decade, the family we are born into, the number of siblings we have or don't have, whether we are born male or female, and so on.

So, as much as I like to try to put aside judgement and understand other people and their perspectives, I have to wonder if it's possible to truly "get" someone else's "view" of things.



Susan Flett Swiderski said...

As a writer, of course your characters will view things through your eyes. No matter how real they may seem to us, they're still products of our own imaginations, and incapable of having a viewpoint independent of what we create for them. But for real people, yes, I think we can see things from their perspective if we truly listen to them with an open mind. Sure, our personal experiences will influence the way we see the world around us, but that doesn't mean we can't change our perception. For example, as a grandmother, I've been given the wonderful gift of being able to re-see the world through the wondering eyes of the children. (And it's great!)

mooderino said...

The fact you consciously attempt it means you will be seeing things from a less 'you' perspective. It won't always be completely 'other' but being aware that different people want different things makes a big deifference in how characters act, I think.

Moody Writing

Unknown said...

I can't tell you how often I try do do just this... understand why someone does something. There are times I think I 'get' it. But most of the time, I am baffled by the actions/reactions of others. I have had to teach myself to remember that I might 'think' I know why someone does something, but I might just as easily be wrong... I love how you bring things like this to mind...

Jo Michaels said...

I think it's both. Your character comes from you, yes, but your ability to view the world from a different angle and try to step into the head of someone else is what makes a great writer. A deep understanding of basic human nature and a strong empathetic fiber are necessities. You may "speak" with your voice, but you most certainly can "see" through another person's eyes.

It also comes to being true to your character and really identifying with him/her. Example: If a brutal murderer kills an entire family in the most atrocious ways possible and you write it down, that's not through your eyes; it's through his/hers. Through your eyes, he/she would likely (I hope lol) let the family go or never go after them in the first place.

I bet you'd also understand the driving force behind the act and be able to identify with it, right?

So, I'd have to say that you actually MUST put yourself IN the character's shoes and see/feel/experience what they do for a full understanding and for your story to have credo.

Just my opinion. :)


Tia Bach said...

Susan, Great point about characters. We create them, so we know their backgrounds, etc. I do think we can try, and should try, with people... but it can be hard, depending on how different we are.

Mooderino, What a lovely thing to say. I certainly do try. My own three kids are teaching me to be less judgemental and more openminded.

Sandi, You are sweet. Yes, I often use this blog to "muse out loud" so to speak.

Jo, Such great character advice. A blog post in itself. ;-)