A Creative Exercise in Empathy

Something which I like to use as a writing prompt and which I like to use to help broaden my understanding of other perspectives, is to try writing from contrary points of view to my own. You could either write a story where somebody who holds beliefs which are different to yours is the protagonist, or where somebody who strongly supports your cause is the villain. Not only will this stop your writing from being too preachy (and help to make things less black and white and more grey, like reality) but it will help you to consider things which you may not have done before, perhaps prompting you to research topics which will just generally help to make you more open minded.

An additional benefit of this is that it’s quite a good way to help you come up with new ideas. If you have to build a storyline around an ideology you don’t agree with being a force for good (or one you do being a force for evil) then you might just find yourself with something quite interesting on your hands. This will help the body of your work to be more diverse and, hopefully, more interesting. A couple of times I have written stories where my perspective are “the bad guys” but have still ultimately conveyed a message I agreed with. It’s an experiment that’s well worth trying for any writers.

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