The other day I was working on a character profile, trying to get to know a major player in my novel better. I thought I had it all worked out until I asked myself one question. What were her wounds? Not physical wounds but those things which have shredded her soul, bruised her ego or damaged self esteem. That kind of thing. I was looking for what made her like she was. Too often a writer forgets to do that.
Humans forget this more than writers. We don’t look at someone and think what might have hurt them deeply. We see the calm surface, not the ripples or waves underneath. We accept what the mirror reflects as the whole person, when it most definitely isn’t. Let me help explain what I mean. There’s a guy in traffic. He cuts you off. Horns blare. Fingers dance in the air. Words spew out – words that can never be taken back, unheard. But what if you why this guy did it. Maybe he was distracted. His child is desperately ill and he can’t fix it. Maybe he just got fired. You don’t know.
Now, I’m not saying ignore everything that goes on in your world without a reaction. (But I would ask you what yelling, screaming, honking and flipping off really accomplish.) What I’m suggesting is that you realize we all have wounds. Take a few seconds and breath. Don’t react in anger. Realize we all have problems on any given day. You have no idea the gaping wounds that some people are walking around with. They smile. They act like everything is okay.
Be the gentle salve that lessens the pain. Be a good human. Be kind. Be compassionate. Listen for the untold stories. Let’s make this world a better place one human at a time.