Perspective: How do your characters view themselves?


All my life I have identified myself as an American of Italian descent. My paternal grandparents emigrated with their families from Sicily to the United States in the early 1900s, joining a sea of immigrants to arrive at the famed Ellis Island.


(Flickr: Carmen Shields)

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My family has continued with all the traditions of a typical Italian-American family to this day.

So imagine our surprise to learn through DNA testing conducted by one of my cousins who has scoured our family’s long lineage that we may actually have some Viking in our blood.

It seems there is some evidence of a genetic marker that links us to a Scandinavian heritage.

Now that’s something. And here all along I’d embraced the narrative that I’d come from Sicilian immigrant origins. We had to work hard for everything we got. Nothing has been handed to us.

Read: Boldly barren: Procrastination has its merits

If I’d known that I had a little bit of Viking ‘kick-ass’ in me, maybe I would have pursued my life goals a little differently. Perhaps I would have been a little less humble and a lot more aggressive in pursuing my ambitions.

Humor aside, perspective is an interesting thing. It is a vital part of our writing that allows us to reach our audience from a point of view that is compelling and dynamic. We do this so that we can be certain that our readers understand the characters as we intend for them to be.

Read: On writing dialogue that feels real, speaks truth

Perhaps even more important, though, is the question of how the characters view themselves? Asking this of our characters can actually allow for a richer development of the protagonist, villain and even the surrounding cast.

How do your characters view themselves? Is it different from how their peers view them? If you were to ask your protagonist how she sees herself, would you agree with her? How do these perceptions inform the narrative and how can they enrich your storytelling?

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at


Kerri S. Mabee

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