I’ve had a number of comments and private messages about my rant about my MacBook Pro. People have pointed out that their Macs are reliable and they’ve never had a problem with them. People have also told me that their PCs are very unreliable. My initial response has been that’s all well and good, but it’s not been my experience.
On reflection my sour response is not really fair. My friends and commenters are simply telling me what has happened to them, just as I am telling them what has happened to me. They clearly live in a world where their Macs are trusted partners and PCs are not. I live in a world where my Mac is flaky and my PCs don’t give me any trouble. The fact that my Mac is unreliable won’t make my friends’ computers any less so. The fact that their computers work makes no difference to my wifi problem. We simply live in different emotional worlds when it comes to our computers.
Of course, this is true of everything, all the time. All of us react to events and the world around us based on our experiences and our emotions, our habits and our preferences. Thinking about it, I was reminded of something I picked up from one of Sol Stein’s books on writing many years ago.
Stein talked about an improv exercise in a drama course, where one of the students was told that she was a mother whose son had been unfairly expelled from school because the headmaster was prejudiced against him because of his skin colour. The other actor was told that he was a headmaster having a meeting with the mother of a boy who was a regular and compulsive troublemaker who created problems in class for all the other children. The student actors were told this in secret. Neither knew the information the other had been given. When they did their scene together, sparks flew. There were plenty of misunderstandings and conflicts based on the actor’s different perceptions of reality.
Stein suggested you replicate this technique in fiction. Give your characters completely different agendas in a scene, make sure they had a point of conflict and assume that they saw the conflict completely differently. When you describe the conflict from the character’s point of view, see to it that it is rooted in their view of the world. He thought this was a recipe for good dramatic writing and I agree.
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