Understanding & Finley: Day 35 of Project 365

Guy Finley

You don’t need strength to let go of something. What you really need is understanding.” - Guy Finley

In my head, understanding is the path to solving every problem.

Isn’t that all I need to say?

Whenever I feel uncomfortable about something, or upset, or irritated, or frustrated, or any other negative emotion, its a result of one thing, at its most base level.

Lack of understanding. Perhaps it is more extreme to me than others, or perhaps I simply am more focused on understanding differences than most people (there are so many reasons why I became an anthropologist), but I notice it in almost every altercation I have. Even when I continue to disagree, if I understand what is going on, I am more willing to back down, while holding onto my own wishes and opinions and maybe even listening to others.

What does this have to do with writing?

Understanding, and the inability to do so, is one of the most powerful sources of conflict your sources can have. What are the limits of understanding your character has about his world and his enemies? Or his friends?

Now think how you can use those limits against him.

This can be added as the main plot between opposing forces, or maybe a few more subtle side-plots can be formed through minor misunderstandings between your protagonist/antagonist and his or her (or its) allies.

Consider this: In your next arguement, really give the old saying “walk in another man’s shoes” a shot. Stop and try to think through the train of thought of your opponent. Imagine what he/she might be feeling. Does it change your perspective? Do you see how your own viewpoint had been a little bit skewed?

I’m not here to admonish. This is human nature – we are wired to be this way. It is simply an important aspect of human nature to capture in your stories.

The better you understand, the better you can use to your advantage in your writing.

What are your character’s major misunderstandings and how to they cover them up or evolve past them?

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