|photo by Jan Siebold|
A few years ago a building lot came up for sale on the street where I live. Through some strange past division of property, the lot was behind an existing home. That meant that the front windows of a new home would look into the back windows of the existing house. Understandably, the owners of the existing house were upset. They had lived there for years, and had assumed that their wooded back yard would remain that way forever. They never imagined that the view from their back kitchen windows would be another house. Protests were made to no avail. The lot was sold and a new house was constructed on the property. In actuality, the owners of the new home did a remarkable job of curving the driveway and landscaping in such a way that the house is barely visible from the street (and from the owners of the front house as well). I often see the children from both houses playing together in the side yard as I walk past. A while back I decided that this tale of two houses serves as the basis for a great lesson in perspective when writing. Instead of picturing my characters from the perspective of a stranger ringing the front door of their house, I try to imagine the view through the back windows. From that point of view I see the characters as they go about the daily business of living ... in their kitchen, in their family room, in the back yard. It helps me to get to know them better, and as I result I have better luck fleshing them out in my writing.