Individuals perceive and process information uniquely. As we progress through the second week of May, let’s think about how our characters or speakers of our poems interpret the world you create for them.
Last week I had to buy new tires and the shop was swamped so I took advantage of their fantastic shuttle service and got a free ride home. I started talking to the driver and asked him if he was an Arkansas native. He said that he was. Then he said that he was sure I wasn’t because I didn’t talk with a southern accent. We just happened to be driving through downtown and I was able to point out the hospital where I was born. We had a good laugh about it. This got me thinking about perception.
How do your characters perceive reality? More specifically, does one character’s opinion of reality differ from the reality you have created for another character?
Think about how your character puts the pieces of reality together to figure out what’s going on. Characters, like people, sometimes don’t have all the information they need to make an informed decision.
There’s a phrase in the medical field that goes something like this: when you hear hoofbeats, think horse, not zebra. The logic is that when you are looking for answers, nine times out of ten the simplest answer is always the right answer. Unless you live in a place where zebras are commonplace, if you hear hoofbeats they are probably going to come from a horse. Or your character’s version of a common entity.
So today I encourage you to use this to your advantage. Surprise your character. If they hear hoofbeats in the distance, will they think “horse” and be right? What happens if they are wrong?
Those of you participating in the May Contest, #gowrite.
We are looking for Beta readers to help with giving feedback to the May contestants. Drop a line in the comments if you’re interested.