In recent posts we’ve looked at writing from your own individual perspective. I’ve made the point that it’s the uniqueness of your perspective that makes your writing stand out from the writing of anyone else.
So let’s look at what perspective is. It’s a way of looking at things, a point of view. Often we mean it in the sense of having taken a step back and seen the issue in a reasonably objective way. Sometimes we offer our own perspective as one of many different ways to look at an issue.
We look at a couple who are having marital problems and we can see things from his side and from her side. If you are one of the couple then objectivity is harder and perhaps only the one perspective seems right. If you are the mother of the husband or the best friend of the wife then another ‘p’ word might be used. Prejudice.
Perspective implies some knowledge of the facts and some distance from the emotional core. Prejudice implies, well, prejudice.
“I don’t know much about it, but I know what I believe.”
“She told me herself”
“I heard it on the news.”
“I’m not going to bother to check out the facts because I don’t think they would lie to me.”
“Everyone knows that… (e.g. fat people are lazy and English people are stuffy)”
A writer needs to have a clearer head than that. Accepting without some research and analysis leads us to believe unsubstantiated ‘facts’ and to prejudice and stereotyping. As writers we need to stand above that; our integrity demands it.
Yes, you can present ideas that other people disagree with – you could do a humorous article or story about aliens. You could espouse a cause that few might believe in, but it should be based it on information that can be proven.
Maintain at all cost your perspective – that clear, well-thought out point of view. At the same time, beware of prejudice – that easy, often hurtful downgrading of other people, their beliefs or their way of life.
Now please excuse me. I’m from England and I need to get my pearls and my umbrella.