Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rewriting prompt: Another opinion

Today's rewriting prompt is short and imageless because I've been spending all my free time preparing for my presentation at the 2015 annual conference of the American Copy Editors Society, otherwise known as ACES 2015. If you're going to be there, make sure you find me and say hello.

Start with a scene from fiction — yours or someone else's — that has more than one character in it. The scene should be written either in first person or in third-person limited. Rewrite the scene from the viewpoint of a different person in the scene than in the original.

Ulterior motive

Every character has unique motivations, desires, and opinions, and these (should) affect how they act and react to every other character in a story. Sometimes, as writers, we can get so caught up in the protagonist's viewpoint and internal motivators that they color the entire story.

Rewrite your scene from the POV of a character who doesn't understand the protagonist, who is distracted by her own concerns, or even who may be trying to manipulate the protagonist in some way. Think of it as a chance to explore the depths of secondary characters and to cast a new light on those protagonists we think we already know pretty well.

For example:
  • Not everyone likes Sherlock Holmes, but they tolerate him. How do they deal with it?
  • Some of the authorities in 1984 might actually feel some sympathy for poor Winston, though they dare not show it. 
  • What did the blind man in Frankenstein really think of his visitor?
  • Did Pearl enjoy spending time with her mother Hester? Did she (Pearl) wonder about who her father was?