We all have a tendency to write characters that are like us. Whether we use our personalities, our political and religious views, our appearances, or our social relationships, some part of us weaves into each of our characters. That’s why I’m presenting you with a particularly hard challenge today: writing opposite characters.
What do I mean by “opposite characters”? I’m talking about characters that are completely the opposite of ourselves. Gender, sexual identity, political views, religious views, personality, attitude, appearance, the character is entirely what we would consider to be our opposites.
The prompt is to write a story or scene using an opposite character as your main character. It can be a flash story, short story, scene from a novel, whatever you like so long as the main character is completely opposite from you. Let your imagination run wild and have fun with it.
I tried a less drastic version of this exercise as an undergrad; we only wrote stories about characters who were opposite from us in personality. Looking back, that exercise did not go well for me. The character had an opposite personality from me but her actions and attitude felt very disingenuous and unnatural. It was all forced. That’s where the difficult lies: making the characters convincing as people when we start out not having anything in common.
It’s a real challenge to write a character so different from ourselves. However, the challenge can help us grow as writers. It makes us think in ways that we don’t normally think and imagine perspectives and obstacles that we’ve never considered before. As a human being it can also increase our empathy and allow us to see everyday arguments from all angles.
Did this exercise teach you anything interesting about yourself? About how you write? Did it change your perspective or how you approach your writing? Leave a comment and tell us about your experiences.