Writers require a number of skills to enable them to do their best work. This is the third in a series titled, Essential Writer Skills that will focus on the specialized abilities writers should develop, and some techniques to hone these skills.
Opinion is an essential skill for a writer to possess. Those who write non-fiction use their opinions and worldviews directly to inform and guide their writing. But even fiction writers need to have opinions to make their writing great. Our opinions and values are reflected, even indirectly in the worlds we create in our writing. Our protagonists often have characteristics we admire, and embody the things we value above all else. Our antagonists are usually the exact opposite. Even the customs and cultures in the worlds we build are informed by our opinions, both positive and negative.
Opinions are often easy to form, we make snap judgements, and quick assessments on a daily basis. Having an informed opinion, though, can require more time, and a greater understanding of the topic. It can be difficult to change your mind, having formed an opinion, but it is a skill which every writer should exercise. The ability to offer perspective, to challenge long-held beliefs, and to expand horizons is the task of every good writer.
This can be done actively in writing in a myriad of ways. I’ve found it useful to create characters whose opinions differ greatly from my own. Writing characters very different from yourself, requires a great deal of empathy on the part of the writer, because in order to create a believable character, you have to understand their motivations and actions. Experiencing the opinions of a character who has a different perspective from your own forces you to come to terms to the underlying basis for your own opinions; which can be challenging, but also very rewarding.
How else is opinion an essential skill for writer? Tell me in the comments below!
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