Well of course it’s all about Me. And You. Everything we experience or observe is about us. It’s about how we react. The person who ran the red light and hit you…it’s about her – and about you. You are the one that had specific memories and the rush when they played your favorite song at that McCartney concert.
No matter how hard you try, the bottom line is you have no frame of reference on anything other than your own. You only have an idea of how another person reacted. Don’t tell them you ‘know how they feel’. Their inner demon will be dancing around saying ‘No she doesn’t! No she doesn’t!’ (and haven’t we said that, too?) before you can get it out of your mouth. You can only offer them acknowledgement and understanding.
So how do you get out of your own mind when developing your characters? How do you write from someone else’s point of view? It’s just plain difficult. Remember when I talked about discovering all my characters were me? That’s okay for one character, but do it too often and readers will recognize that they are all the same, and that’s no good.
It’s easiest to make someone have exactly the opposite reactions that you would have. Your characters have their own past – think about how their situation is different from yours. He didn’t have a loving parent, so maybe when his Dad died, his reaction was of relief instead of sorrow. She had an abusive husband, so when her best friend tells her he loves her, maybe she is fearful instead of happy. When you’ve used up that technique, you have to sneak in smaller differences.
But you have mind control! You can find things about yourself you don’t like and fix it, or exaggerate your own good qualities, as you see them. You can make your character weaker or stronger, or any way you choose. So, even your fiction is still ‘all about you’ – but different.
It’s hard to put our own memories and emotions in the back room and try to let others make themselves visible – even made-up ones. That’s why we are creative people, isn’t it? But then, maybe it’s just ME.