Branch Out: Character Perspective

The goal of this exercise is to explore other characters in your story. Often, when beginning a new story, you can get trapped in the perspective of one character. Though, this may not seem like a bad thing when writing a first person or even close third narrative, it can be. You often forget to create round secondary characters and in some cases, miss an opportunity to shift the story to another character.

 

Step one: Choose 3 characters

  • Your potential POV character
  • The focal character
  • Secondary character

 

Step two: Choose a conflict

            If you have one in mind for your story—great! If not, you can choose something that really happened or make something up. Since you’re working with characters that already exist, you can build off what they’ve already experienced as characters or take them somewhere else, using what you already know about them.

Choose a conflict that will force the character to change.

 

Step three: Write from the perspective of each character

You will have about 5 minutes per character to write about the conflict from their perspective. The neat thing about this exercise is that you’re not limited to one thing. For example, avoid writing the cafeteria scene where the conflict is happening in front of all the characters. Don’t write about a fight in which each character is standing in a different corner of the room.

What you can do, for example, is write from different generations, ages, or times. You can have a modern perspective vs. a medieval one. One perspective can be seen only through Twitter while others are hand-written in letters. Etc.

 

Example: The We-Were-On-A-Break Fight between Ross and Rachel.

 

Character

  • Rachel
  • Chandler
  • Emma (Ross and Rachel’s daughter)

 

Conflict

Were they, or were they not on a break and how is affected each person.

 

Perspective

  • Rachel – Was betrayed. On a break is not a break-up. Trust issues.
  • Chandler – Ensured that relationships couldn’t survive. Took longer to date Monica.
  • Emma – Thankful. Happy it happened earlier and allowed her parents to mature before they became parents. All her friends have divorced parents, but she doesn’t.

 

This exercise gives you a chance to fully explore the other characters in your story. Your main character is not the only one with thoughts and feelings, though that’s all we see on the surface. The feelings and thoughts of secondary characters can be shown through action and dialogue. You can reap the benefits of this exercise by fully forming your secondary characters throughout your story.

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