I’ve known many writers who stop writing because they cannot get into the head and heart of their characters. They experience writer’s block because they are at a loss how to create realistic story people.
But it turns out that our brains are wired to do exactly that– to get into the heads and hearts of friends, strangers and characters. We have mirror cells that mirror people and characters.
When I used to dance, I had to see someone perform the steps and then I could feel it in my body and when I felt it, I could dance it. If someone gave me instructions on how to perform the dance, I was utterly confused and lost.
Now I know why Dostoievsky followed people in the street. By imitating their walk, he could get into their minds and create his characters. It isn’t merely rapport that we are establishing when we match another’s movements at NLP suggests, but it is actually the person’s being that we capture.
I wonder if that is the origin of psychic phenomenon. When I was a social worker, I often knew the story of the person sitting in front of me although I didn’t have a clue how I knew these things. But I could see their life from the inside, confusing any social work students that had the misfortune to shadow me that day, and the interviews went extremely well.
So this gives me encouragement to get inside my characters and feel how they are living, adding a new level of realism and substance to the story.