How do they Feel?


As a parent I’ve caught myself telling my kid to think about “how they feel” quite a few times.  My daughter (7) is a bit bossy (people who know her are laughing right now because I said a BIT.  She’s a lot bossy.  Girlfriend needs to be a CEO) and often gets in trouble for trying to micromanage her classmates.  My son (11) think he’s hilarious.  He often gets in trouble for telling jokes at inappropriate times.  So it’s a good idea to try and make them think about the other people in these situations.

“How would you feel if a little girl in your class was trying to tell you how to solve a problem, sit in a chair, or walk in the hallway?”

“How would you feel if you were just trying to do your job and someone busted in and told a joke right in the middle of what you were doing?”

“How would you feel…”

Turns out this old parenting trick is actually a great exercise for writers.  The next time you’re sticking your main character in a scene that isn’t quite working…stop.  Pick a different character.  How do they feel?  Is there something they can do or say that will suddenly make your MC aware of this?  Take that outside character and, for just a second, make it about them.  It reminds us that these people are living in a real world.  They’re not floating around alone.  Just like us, their consequences effect others.

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