The big social media news of the last week have been about a dress that has people arguing over its actual colour (http://www.wired.com/2015/02/science-one-agrees-color-dress/ ). The colour of the dress is not really important, but how people view it is. And it’s exactly the same with fiction.
Often, when stuck in a writing rut, I find looking at things from a different perspective illuminates those ever-so-evasive escape routes. The obvious example here is the love-it-or-hate-it Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: looking at things from Amy’s viewpoint is completely different to looking at them from Nick’s. The same is true of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet: the descriptions of the same events are often surprisingly divergent.
But, I hear you muttering, what if I’m not writing in the multiple first or third person? Pretend. Play it out in your head. Take a minor character, a bird peering in through the window, a spider hoping the person in the room doesn’t notice them or a time-traveller from the 16th century that decides to drop in for a cup of tea. How do they see the same events, the same movements, the same dress? How people see things depends on their history, genes and what is important to them, in this example their own problems, curiosity, safety and interest.
It transpires that changing your shoes can change your mood, or so says some scientific research (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26524-magic-shoes-how-to-hear-yourself-instantly-happy.html?cmpid=EMP%7CNSNS%7C2015-0226-GLOBAL-FebWk4%7Chear&utm_medium=EMP&utm_source=NSNS&utm_campaign=FebWk4&utm_content=hear&#.VPQiuumzXIV ). And if it works in real life, then it should work in fiction too, right?
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